ACT English and SAT Writing Tips: Maintaining Style

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Keeping up Fashion store for male clothes.jpegwith current fashion trends isn't the only type of style you must maintain--you also have to make sure that an author preserves his or her  style in the ACT English and SAT Writing sections.

Style on the ACT and SAT? We're not talking Louis Vuitton shoes for guys and Louboutin purses for girls, but rather the writing style that the author uses to express thought. So just as your clothes must be a cohesive statement from head to toe, an ACT English or SAT Writing passage must maintain its tone and word choice from introduction to conclusion.


The most common style choice that writers make involves the formality of their writing. Consider the difference between these two passages:

Have you ever been on a trampoline? Not just seen one on TV, but actually been on it? It’s a blast! You can do tricks in the air that make you feel like you are flying, and the thrill of falling from a double bounce into a seat drop is like none other. I recommend the experience for everyone!

Trampolines provide vigorous exercise, ideal for improving cardiovascular health and increased agility. First invented in the 1930s, the trampoline began its expansive history as a circus apparatus, but quickly evolved into a training mechanism and recreational device.

Informal essays use first and second person pronouns (such as and you ), common expressions (like none other), slang (It’s a blast! ), contractions (it’s vs. it is ) and everyday speech (TV vs. television ).  Formal language, on the other hand, is much more serious in tone. It uses complicated language, from complex sentence structure to difficult vocabulary.  

The ACT in particular uses a wide variety of passage styles. You may encounter everything from informal personal anecdotes about camping trips to formal evaluations of literature. The SAT leans toward more formal prose, but an occasional personal anecdote can occur.

When selecting alternatives for underlined portions, be sure to choose an answer that maintains the style of the passage. The test may clearly ask you about this task:


Or leave the formality issues for you to discover on your own:

284-2.pngEven without reading the entire passage, it's possible to answer these questions based on the diction of the individual sentences. The answer to example 1 is (A) and the answer to example 2 is (J).

Need some full passage examples of questions on the ACT and SAT about maintaining style? Check out the following:

ACT Test 1, Page 20, Question 55

ACT Test 2, Page 14, Question 2

ACT Test 2, Page 18, Question 32

SAT Test 1, Page 29, Question 33

SAT Test 2, Page 29, Question 37

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