I or Me?


The easiest way to deal with these pesky questions about pronoun case is to cross out each pronoun and then read the sentence as if there were only one pronoun.

These are Correct.

You and I are learning grammar. (You are learning grammar.)

You and I are learning grammar. (I am learning grammar.)

Grammar matters to you and me.  (Grammar matters to you.)

Grammar matters to you and me. (Grammar matters to me.)

These are Incorrect.

You and me are learning grammar. (Me am learning grammar.)

Grammar matters to you and I. (Grammar matters to I.)

If you draw a line through the 2nd pronoun, you will find that you would never say, “Grammar matters to I.”  Yet, many people think this is correct and say it when they are trying to use formal English. Test each pronoun individually in the sentence and you will usually be able to hear if it should be in the nominative (I) or objective (me) case.


What Pilates taught me about the ACT


I am a certified Pilates instructor.   The Comprehensive Certification Program (Level 1) required 200 hours of intense, grueling work. My body hurt, my mind was overloaded, and my emotions were fragile.  But the harder that certification process pushed and punished me, the more I pushed and prodded back.  I set my mind.  I decided that not only was I going to pass my physical and written exams, I was going to crush them.

I was over 40.  I was learning something completely new and I was challenging my body in a way I never had before.  Apparently I did inherit something from my athletic father:  enough coordination to systematically move, a competitive will, and the audacity to believe that I actually could succeed.

The ACT is not that much different.  I’m even older now and I am entering my 5th year of studying standardized tests.  I’ve had flashbacks to high school. I am thankful to Mrs. Chic Clemons who taught me to diagram sentences and to Mrs. Lucy Brown who taught me to FOIL.  I know grammar and I know basic algebra.

Yet, for some reason I never learned  Coordinate Geometry or Trigonometry.  Science always seemed a little scary and out of my reach.  But you know what?  Not anymore.  We live in the Age of Information and we can learn anything. We can teach ourselves.  We can teach our children.  Our children can teach us.

So …what of Pilates?   This is what I know.  Learn the basic order first. Practice it over and over. Smooth out the rough parts. Become stronger. Practice it again.  Move faster and with flow.  Find your rhythm.  Celebrate the order and structure of the movements.  Since you know what’s coming, practice it everyday.

Once you have mastered the basic order, add in one intermediate exercise.  Practice everyday.  Add in another.  Practice.  Once you have mastered both the basic and intermediate order, add in one advanced exercise . Practice. Get stronger. Get faster.

So…what of the ACT?  Start with the subject you like best. Answer the questions you can and skip the rest. Assess.  What do you know?  What do you need to learn?  Practice the easy questions first. Forty percent of the math problems test pre-algebra.  However, the questions are presented in confusing ways;  the unpracticed test taker will miss many of them.   But not you.  Learn the basic order. Practice.  Get stronger. Get faster.

Standardized test preparation is a million dollar industry, yet most students don’t see significant results. We buy their books, but they don’t deliver.  Why?  We are working backwards.  We need to START with one actual ACT test.  ACT, Inc. is kind enough to sell them to us.  Stay on that ONE test for months if you need to. Learn the basic order. Add in intermediate problems and then the advanced.  When you can teach that test to others, move on to the next one.

Learning something new is challenging. It takes time. It takes commitment.  It takes practice. Start early and enjoy the ride.





Last Minute Tips for the ACT Tomorrow

Kudos to you for taking the ACT in the summer. June is a fantastic time to test because you can order an actual copy of your test and answer key.  Of course, with the ACT, nothing is simple.   You must go to their website within 3 months of taking the test and print out a Test Information Release form (TIR) and MAIL the form to them with a check for $20.00.  It takes 4 to 6 weeks after your scores come out to get the test.  I can still hardly believe that they do this.  This information is priceless to you as you study.  You have another real test to work from and access to all of your mistakes.  The ACT only offers this service on the December, April, and June tests.

Here are some basic things to keep in mind tomorrow as you test.


The English section consists of 5 passages:  75 questions that must be answered in 45 minutes.  Most people struggle to finish. If you start a passage and you do not understand it, skip it and go on to the next one.  Do not answer every question in the order they are asked.  Sometimes the ACT will ask you to pick a transition sentence to connect two paragraphs.  Since you haven’t read the second paragraph yet, this is hard. Skip it.  Finish answering the questions and then come back. You have now read the entire passage and you didn’t have to take extra time reading the paragraph twice. Some of the “language usage” questions take much longer to answer than the others. They are also more difficult. Skip these and come back to them at the end of the test if you have time. It is a travesty to not finish a test because you were stuck on the “hard” questions and left the easy ones unanswered.  If you are running out of time, guess on everything that is left unanswered.  There is no guessing penalty on the ACT.


You will have 60 questions to answer in 60 minutes.  You will go through the math questions 3 times.  On the first trip, answer all of the questions that come easily for you.  You know how to do them.  Be very careful and do not make any mistakes.  On your second trip through, do the ones that are a little more difficult, but you are still pretty sure that you can get the correct answer. Save the hardest ones for last.  If you run out of time, at least you will have answered correctly all of the ones that you knew how to do.  Sometimes the last few questions are relatively easy, but people run out of time before they get to them.


0078656031922_500X500You have a 10 minute bathroom break. Bring a protein
snack and a water bottle. This worked great for my son. He consistently crashed during the science section. It was his lowest score and he said that he was mentally and physically exhausted .  After taking a Met-Rx bar at the break, his science score went from a 24 to a 32.  Crazy, I know.


Again, we do NOT answer questions in order on the ACT.  Each test has 4 passages: Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities and Natural Science. Start with the passage that you like the best. Do the one you are least comfortable with last. Always answer the “main idea of the passage” questions last (they are usually asked first and this is a HUGE time eater).  After you have answered all of the other questions, you will have a much better feel for the passage and will be able to answer the question more intelligently.    Remember, there is only ONE answer. Every word in every answer must be true for the answer to be correct.  It is sometimes easier to mark out the wrong answers first, leaving you with the correct answer. EVERY WORD must be true and supported by the passage.  Use your pencil.  Mark this passage up. Cross out wrong answers.  Research shows that test takers who mark up their tests score much higher than those who do not interact with the material.


For most students the science section is extremely intimidating.  The science section tests the same skill set as the reading section.  Every answer is on the test. It is measuring how well you can read graphs and trends.  There are 7 passages with 5 questions each.  Usually the 1st question in each of those sections is the easiest and the 5th question is the hardest.  If you were to skip every 5th question and get all of the others correct, you would still score a 27 on the science section. Do not get bogged down here. If you start reading a section and don’t understand it, move on. Don’t spend too much time on one question or you will never make it to easier questions that still lie ahead.  Remember, each question is worth the same amount.  You must do everything in your power to get the easy questions correct.

It’s Over.

You did well.  You showed up. You gave it your all.  The ACT is not a reflection of your character, your skill, your creativity, or even your intelligence.  It is a representation of how well you can take a test and how quickly you can process information.

However, I would encourage you to use your character, your skill, your creativity, and your intelligence to develop a long range plan to conquer this test. It can be done.  Let’s do it together.