ACT English Practice Questions
The actual ACT English section of the ACT exam will have five different reading passages with 75 questions total. Here, try your hand at just one of the reading passages to see how you might fare on this multiple-choice portion of the test. Be sure to use those ACT English strategies!
The set-up below is a little different than what you'll see on the actual exam. Here, the questions are indicated by a number in front of the bold text you'll need to address. On the exam, the numbers will be underneath the underlined portion you'll need to address. Additionally, the text will be on the right with the questions on the left on the actual test.
Scroll down for answers below the questions
More Than Light Itself
On hot and humid summer evenings, almost everyone has witnessed fireflies, also called lightning bugs, flitting around (2) your yard or landing on a windowsill and occasionally emitting a soft glow. Flashing on and off like flashlights or twinkling holiday lights, a firefly is just one of the many organisms that can produce (3) it's own (4) light. This feature, known as bioluminescence or cold light, (5) appears in nature quite often.
All forms of light occur through a similar process. To understand this process, you must first know a little bit about atoms. Atoms are the (6) smaller parts of elements, such as iron and sodium, (7) which have the same chemical properties. The center of an atom is called the nucleus and is composed of particles called protons and neutrons. Other particles, called electrons, orbit the nucleus of an (8) atom; just like the earth orbits the sun. The electrons' orbit does not change unless the electrons are excited or energized in some way. QUESTION 9 Then, when they fall back to their normal energy level, they fall back to a lower orbit and release packets of energy called photons, (10) which produce light. Light from a lamp or streetlight is produced when electrons are excited by heat from electricity.
In bioluminescent organisms, electrons are excited by a chemical reaction, not heat, which is why the phenomenon is often referred to as cold light. The chemicals that various organisms use to create light are luciferin and luciferase. Luciferin is the substance that produces (11) light luciferase is the enzyme that causes the chemical reaction to begin. In the simplest terms, luciferase makes luciferin react with oxygen, which produces light.
QUESTION 12 1 Many organisms, (13) from bacteria and mushrooms to certain sea creatures, insects, and others are capable of producing their own light. 2 Certain fungi, such as the jack-o'-lantern mushroom, can also create light. 3 The orange jack-o'-lantern mushrooms are often found growing on trees in the fall. 4 Among the terrestrial creatures are fireflies, glowworms, and some centipedes and millipedes. 5 Fox fire is another type of glowing fungus, usually found growing on dead or decaying trees. 6 At night, the gills of the mushroom, found beneath the cap and partway down the stalk, emit a greenish light.
ACT English Practice Questions
1. The writer is considering deleting "On hot and humid summer evenings" from the first sentence (adjusting the capitalization as needed). If the writer were to make this change, the paragraph would primarily lose:
A. an indication of the tone that will be used in the rest of the passage.
B. details that emphasize the time of year bioluminescence must occur.
C. an example of the kinds of weather imperative for bioluminescence to occur.
D. nothing, because it is irrelevant to the paragraph.
F. NO CHANGE
G. their yard or landing on a windowsill
H. his or her yard or landing on a windowsill
J. your yard or landing on a windowsill
A. NO CHANGE
4. Which of the following is NOT an acceptable alternative for the bold portion?
F. light, this feature
G. light; this feature
H. light, and this feature
J. light. This dramatic feature
5.The writer would like to indicate here the surprising frequency of bioluminescence. Which choice does this most effectively while maintaining the tone of the passage and the meaning of the sentence?
A. actually appears in nature at a higher frequency than one might come to expect.
B. actualy appears in nature more often than you might think.
C. actually appears in nature more often than it does not.
D. actually shows up in nature more than you could ever even believe.
F. NO CHANGE
G. most small
J. more small
A. NO CHANGE
B. despite having the same chemical properties as the elements.
C. that has the same chemical properties as the elements that contain them.
D. and have the same chemical properties as the elements that contain them.
F. NO CHANGE
G. atom just like
H. atom, just like
J. atom: just like
9. Given that all the following choices are true, which choice provides the most effective transition from the preceding sentence in the paragraph to the following one?
A. When electrons absorb energy, they move to a higher orbit.
B. When electrons take in energy, they resume their normal energy level and move to the highest orbit.
C. After they are energized, they move into a lower orbit.
D. After they are energized, they resume their normal energy level.
10. Which of the following is NOT an acceptable alternative to the bold portion?
F. which produce light; light from
G. which produce light. Light such as that from
H. that produce light. Light from
J. that produce light from
A. NO CHANGE
B. light. Luciferase
C. light, but luciferase
D. light; and luciferase
12.Which of the following sentence orders makes the paragraph the most logical?
F. NO CHANGE
G. 1, 4, 6, 5, 2, 3
H. 1, 4, 2, 6, 5, 3
J. 1, 4, 2, 3, 6, 5
A. NO CHANGE
B. from bacteria and mushrooms to certain sea creatures, insects, and others is
C. from bacteria and mushrooms to certain sea creatures and insects are
D. from bacteria, mushrooms, and certain sea creatures are
Questions 14 and 15 relate to the passage as a whole
14. The writer is considering adding a statement to the beginning of the passage, clarifying the purpose for writing. Which statement LEAST emphasizes the writer's purpose?
F. Reading this passage will inform you of instances of bioluminescence in nature and the science behind this phenomenon.
G. Although the primary cause of bioluminescence is unclear, after reading this passage, you'll know a little more about the science surrounding this magical feature of nature, a few examples of it in the wild, and the chemical reactions that cause it to occur.
H. After you finish reading this passage, you'll be able to explain scientific data about bioluminescence and provide a few examples of this wonder in the natural world around us.
J. When you've finished reading this information about bioluminescence, you'll be persuaded to study the complexities of the science behind this phenomenon, and the different forms of nature preserving themselves with a bioluminescent feature.
15. The writer would like to add a paragraph to the end of the passage challenging readers to donate money to fund research on bioluminescence in habitats around the world. Should this paragraph be added?
A. Yes, because the passage is left without a conclusion, and adding a challenge to the end of this piece is a great way to create a conclusion without repeating too much information.
B. Yes, because it would tie the whole point of the passage together while offering a way for readers to connect to the scientific data presented.
C. No, because although the passage is left without an appropriate conclusion, adding a paragraph about donating money changes the purpose of the essay.
D. No, because the paragraph that is currently at the end sums up the passage enough for the reader to be left with information about bioluminescence that he or she didn't know prior to reading.
A Although this phrase mentions weather, the rest of the essay never indicates that bioluminescence has anything to do with the weather, which gets rid of choices B and C. D is obviously incorrect. If you completed this question second, answering all of the easy questions first and coming back to this later, you'd know that!
H Here, the antecedent is everyone, which is singular. It requires the singular his or her, although we can all agree that you'd probably use the word their in spoken English.
B Here, we need the possessive pronoun for firefly, so its is appropriate. It's is a contraction of it is. Its' is not a word, and their, Choice D, changes the pronoun to plural when it must be singular.
F This one is tricky, because you have to figure out which one is NOT acceptable. Choice F creates a comma splice sentence, but every other choice is structurally sound.
B Choice A is too formal, choice C is inaccurate, and Choice D is too informal. Choice B maintains the casual tone the best.
H Here, the superlative form should've been used, which would make it smallest, which rules out choice F. Choices G and J are never appropriate.
D This is a matter of an ambiguous pronoun reference. We're not sure if the pronoun which is referring back to atoms or the elements. Choice A is incorrect because it doesn't fix the ambiguity. Choice B creates a different meaning and doesn't fix the ambiguity. Choice C actually creates a new error by using the singular pronoun has.
H Remember that a semicolon must follow the same rules as an end mark by joining independent clauses. Here, the second clause is not independent, so a better usage is a comma and the conjunction.
A This sentence must join the previous and following sentences together. Since the following sentence mentions the lower orbit in the comparative sense, we have to assume that higher is what it's being compared to.
J This is one of those NOT questions, which means you simply have to cross of the stuff that does work. Here, you're looking to form a correct sentence, so check each one by plugging in. Choice J changes the meaning of the sentences altogether, so it doesn't work.
B In the passage, the sentence is a run-on. So, choice A is out. Choice C creates faulty meaning, and Choice D uses the semicolon improperly.
J The easiest way to figure this out is by underlining the topic of each sentence, and paying close attention to transitions. That way, you'll logically figure out which should come next.
C Choice B creates another error: subject verb agreement. Choice D leaves out some information (insects), so it has to go. Choice A is wrong because the sentence isn't parallel in context.
J Here, you'll greatly benefit from having read the entire passage. If you skimmed, you'll miss out on what the author was clearly trying to do, which is to inform you about something. Since choice J says the author was trying to persuade you, it is wrong.
C Although choices A and B indicate that the essay is missing a conclusion and it is, the reason for adding it is incorrect. That kind of a conclusion would neither tie anything together, nor would it keep the tone of the piece. Choice C indicates this.