Your 33 on the ACT
Doesn’t mean you need a PhD
An A in math and science
Doesn’t make art an act of defiance
Because the SAT says 1570
You still don’t need to go to MIT

These are the reasons
Their shoulders sag with grievance
Because we bark at them
The only career for you is in STEM
How can we be so insensitive
To say that it’s a waste to be creative?

—  to anyone who’s been told that a certain career or passion is a waste of your intelligence
What’s Up with Comma Splices?

A comma splice is a grammar error that is created by joining two independent clauses (complete sentences) with a comma. It is one of the most common grammar mistakes; if you pay attention, you’ll encounter dozens of them each day.

Since we have two complete sentences, we would form a comma splice if we combined them by using just a comma:

We see comma splices everywhere, and it’s unfortunate that people don’t know how to correct them.

💁🏻 Here is an easy way to correct a comma splice:

❗️ There is another way to fix comma splices: use the “FANBOYS”:

⚠️ IMPORTANT NOTE: If the sentences are short, the comma before each FANBOYS is optional. However, on the SAT and ACT exams, they ALWAYS require a comma.

The technical name for the FANBOYS is coordinating conjunction. The term itself isn’t important; what actually matters is the role that coordinating conjunctions play. So let’s take a random comma splice and fix it by using one of the FANBOYS:

The sentence is now correct. On standardized tests, comma splices are quite common. Placing one of the FANBOYS between the two independent clauses (i.e., complete sentences) solves this problem. 

💁🏻‍♂️ Just be sure to pick the one that makes the most logical sense. (For instance, there is a big difference between “but” and “and,” so you have to pick the right word.)

We’ve all been there. You walk into your class and…everybody else is frantically reviewing their notes and textbooks? There’s a test today? NOOOO!

I got caught in a nerve-wracking situation when the ACT totally slipped my mind. But miraculously, I still got a 35–perfect score is 36, so hey, not shabby! Here are the tips that helped me do my best.

  1. Don’t freak out. I cannot emphasize the importance of this. I once spent months studying for a super-important test, but the day of the exam, I drank tons of coffee, which made me super jittery. That, on top of nerves, made me crazy-anxious and I made lots of silly mistakes. No test is worth compromising your mental health for. If you find yourself getting really nervous, just take a moment to breathe in and count to ten. Then exhale. If you’re prone to testing anxiety, you might find it helpful to rub lavender essential oils on your hands, and to take calming whiffs throughout the exam.
  2. Don’t read everything. Seriously, don’t. The ACT is all about time management, and you almost certainly won’t have time to read all of the passages, especially in the science section. The good news is, you don’t have to read everything; just skim the passage to get a good sense of what it’s about, and focus on the specific parts that the questions ask about.
  3. Play it by ear. The English section will ask you to suss out sentence errors. It’s often helpful to listen to the phrases in your head and figure out which part sounds funky. Watch out for awkward sentence structure or pronoun ambiguity.
  4. Chug and plug. Your math teacher probably frowned upon “guessing and checking” but hey, in a multiple-choice exam, nobody’s going to know. If you’re really stuck on a math problem, it can be helpful to substitute variables with numbers, or to insert answer choices into equations.
  5. Be fearless with your pencil. Your exam booklet is going to be recycled afterwards, so might as well mark it up, right? Circle and underline important sections, draw diagrams that help you visualize the questions.

I hope these tips help, but do keep in mind that standardized test scores are just a number and do not define you! Good luck :)