ACT English Passage Practice Questions

By Lisa Zimmer Hatch, Scott A. Hatch

The ACT English Test passages look like standard reading comprehension passages. The difference is that these passages have many underlined portions. An underlined portion can be an entire sentence, a phrase, or even just one word.

You can put your grammar skills to the test with this practice ACT English passage.

Directions: Following are four paragraphs containing underlined portions. Alternate ways of stating the underlined portions follow the paragraphs. If the original is the best way of stating the underlined portion, choose NO CHANGE. Choose the best answer.

Marian Anderson: Groundbreaking Singer and Friend of First Ladies

[1] Marian Anderson possibly will have the greatest influence opening doors and gaining well-deserved opportunities for other African American singers than anyone else to date so far. [2] Anderson, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had an early interest in music. [3] She learns to play the piano and was singing in the church at the age of six. [4] She gave her first concert at age eight, when she was still a young child.

[5] In 1925, Anderson won a concert hosted by the New York Philharmonic, beating out no less than 300 singers. [6] It launched her career but, America was not quite ready for her fantastic voice, personality, or racial heritage.

In 1936, the White House asking her to give a performance. She confessed that this occasion was different than other concerts because she was very nervous. She and Eleanor Roosevelt became close friends, but this friendship between she and the First Lady became evident when Anderson was snubbed by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The DAR refused to let Anderson perform in Constitution Hall in 1939, the White House made arrangements for Ms. Anderson to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial instead.

In 1977, First Lady Rosalynn Carter presented Marian Anderson with a Congressional Gold Medal, making Ms. Anderson the first African American to receive such an honor. Later she was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.

Sample questions

  1. (A) NO CHANGE

    (B) has had

    (C) has

    (D) is having

  2. (F) NO CHANGE

    (G) a greater

    (H) one of the greatest

    (J) a great

  3. (A) NO CHANGE

    (B) dating so far

    (C) so far dated

    (D) OMIT the underlined portion.

Answers and explanations

  1. The correct answer is Choice (B).

    Because Marian Anderson’s influence has already been felt, future tense isn’t appropriate. Ms. Anderson has influenced and continues to influence. The verb tense that shows past action that continues or may continue into the present and beyond is present perfect.

  2. The correct answer is Choice (G).

    You need to read the entire sentence before deciding on an answer. If you read “the greatest influence” all by itself, it sounds correct. However, if you continue to read the sentence, you find the comparative than. You cannot say “the greatest influence than” but rather “a greater influence than.”

    Be very careful to read the entire sentence. You may save a few seconds by reading only the underlined portion, but you’ll sacrifice a lot of points.

  3. The correct answer is Choice (D).

    To date and so far are redundant; they mean the same thing. You can use one or the other but not both. (Quick! Notify the Department of Redundancy Department!)