Here is the very first question of the December 2013 ACT. So predictable. So easy to teach. So easy to learn. But if you haven’t practiced or been shown what to look for, the question can be tricky.
(on these questions, students have to choose the answer that makes the best sentence):
The clear-cutting of trees to create new ski runs on mountainsides, though, a one-time event, devastates fragile ecosystems and destroys wildlife habitats.
A. NO CHANGE
B. mountainsides, though
C. mountainsides though,
D. mountainsides though
Here the correct answer is B. Commas are used when there are natural pauses in a sentence. There is no natural pause after the word “though”. Therefore, you DON’T need a comma after “though”. You DO need a comma after the word “mountainsides”. There is a natural pause here because you want to separate one piece of the sentence – “though a one-time event”.
Process of elimination is another good strategy that helps on so many different ACT questions and would have helped here. Cross out Choice A because there is no way you would pause both before and after the word “though”. Cross out Choice D because if you need to pause somewhere so you don’t have a run-on type of sentence. Now you have it down to Choice B or C. But Choice C is out because you wouldn’t say “mountainsides though” without a pause and then pause after “though”. Try reading it this way. It makes no sense. The only choice left is Choice B so choose it and move on.