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ACT English: Writer’s Goal Questions

Karen S.

Sometimes the ACT English section asks whether a passage fulfills a particular goal. These “writer’s goal” questions take the form of a stated goal, followed by two “yes” and two “no” answers. Students often find these questions difficult because they require them to think about the entire passage. However, there is a simple, fool-proof method for answer these questions.


Let’s begin with a sample question similar to what you would encounter on the ACT:


Suppose the author had intended to write a brief persuasive essay arguing for the health benefits of all organic foods. Would this essay fulfill that goal?


  1. Yes, because the essay includes details about the organic farming process, which gives readers a greater appreciation of organic foods.
  2. Yes, because the essay states that certain organic foods can have health benefits.
  3. No, because the essay does not explain how foods qualify for the label “organic.”
  4. No, because the essay reports objectively on both the health benefits and drawbacks of organic foods.



Now we’ll go through the steps necessary to answer this question:


  1. Do NOT choose your answer based solely on the “yes/no” part.

Focus on the reasoning behind each “yes/no” answer, not the “yes/no” itself.


  1. Eliminate answers that don’t directly address the question.

The key phrase in the sample question is “arguing for the health benefits of ALL organic foods.” We can eliminate choice “A” because it mentions organic farming and “appreciation” of organic foods, not health benefits. Choice “B” can be eliminated because it says that only “certain” organic foods have health benefits.


  1. Eliminate answers that are not supported by the passage.

For this exercise, let’s assume that the passage does mention (albeit in passing) how foods earn the label “organic.” Therefore, choice “C” is wrong.


  1. Confirm the remaining answer.

At this point, we only have choice “D” left. We’re going to pretend that the text of our imaginary passage is evenly divided between the pros and cons of eating an organic diet. Based on this information, we know that “D” accurately describes the passage. As a final check, we note that this explanation makes sense as a “no” answer. Thus, choice “D” is the correct answer.




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