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ACT and the Serial Comma

Posted on 11th May 2011 in Tampa ACT Preparation

I was helping one of my students prepare for the ACT today. We considered a sentence like this one.

The boys were going to the beach, park, and marina.

Some style books do not require the second comma.

The Associated Press Style Guide advises writers not to include the comma before the conjunction in a series of three or more.

If the McGraw Hill practice tests reflect the real ACT, the makers of the ACT want test takers to use the serial comma to separate the items on a list.

In other words, they regard “The boys went to the beach, park, and marina.” as correct. They regard leaving off the second comma as an error.

People who care about punctuation disagree about the need for the second comma in a series of three. I think that it’s better to include it.

Users of the MLA Style Manual and The Chicago Manual of Style generally include the second comma in a series of three. Users of the Associated Press Style Guide do not.

No matter who you think is right, know the makers of the ACT consider the second comma in a series of three essential.

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This image created by Liz West and licensed under CC by 2.0. See more of her photos at


Eric Anderson is a SAT and ACT tutor in Wesley Chapel, Florida.

He can help your son or daughter score higher on the reading and writing portions of both standardized admission tests.

Call 813.787.8959 to reach Eric.

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New Tampa SAT Tutor Success Story

Posted on 5th May 2011 in Tampa SAT Preparation

I tutored one of my favorite students last night. She is one of the smartest students I have ever worked with. Her parents hired me to help her improve her writing and prepare for the Duke TIPS SAT for 7th graders. She got a letter from Duke indicating that she scored in the top three percent of the students tested.

She and her parents were thrilled with this result. And so am I.

She has devoted the time and effort to understanding the kinds of questions on the SAT writing test and now does better than a few of the high school seniors who I tutor. I expect that by the time she takes the PSAT, she will be a cinch to be a National Merit Scholar is she stays on the straight and narrow path.

This image created by freelance journalist Chiarra Marra and licensed under CC Attribution Only. See more of Chiara’s photos at

If your son or daughter is looking for help preparing for the writing or reading portions of the SAT, please feel free to give me a call at 813.787.8959 or contact me at Tampa tutor at Tampa bay dot rr dot com. I tutor students in New Tampa, Carrollwood, Odessa, Temple Terrace, and the surrounding communities.

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