The writing test is one of the five sections that make up the ACT. Each student’s writing test is evaluated based on the elements in the ACT essay scoring rubric. The ACT writing rubric features four areas or domains. The four domains are ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use and conventions. The scores a student receives in each of these domains contribute to a student’s total score on the essay.
Let’s examine the scoring process for the writing test and take a closer look at the ACT essay scoring rubric:
The Scoring System for the ACT Essay
Each student’s essay is evaluated by two individuals who are familiar with the ACT essay rubric. A score of one to six points is given for each of the four domains in the ACT writing rubric. The scores of both graders are added together to get a total score for each domain. If there is a discrepancy of more than one point between the individual scores of the two readers, then a third reader is brought in to re-evaluate the student’s essay. Otherwise, an essay receives a total score based on the domain scores awarded by the two readers.
Ideas and Analysis
The first item in the ACT essay rubric concerns ideas and analysis. Essay graders evaluate a student’s ability to understand and express the ideas contained in the given issue. In order to achieve a high score on the essay, students must also be able to understand the different perspectives offered on the issue. An essay should contain relevant ideas expressed in a clear, succinct fashion.
Development and Support
Students who achieve a high score in this domain offer solid evidence to support their points of view. In fact, they provide specific examples that help to support their perspectives. Students are able to convey their ideas in a way that is easy to understand. They take their audience into account as they craft their arguments. At the end of the essay, the reader should be able to see a student’s way of thinking regarding the given issue.
Students receive a score for the way they organize their essay. Their ideas should be organized in a logical way that lends to the reader’s understanding. A student must transition from idea to idea in a smooth way. An essay should have a clear purpose and end with a conclusion that sums up the student’s thoughts on the issue. A typical format for an ACT essay includes an introduction, three or four paragraphs in the body, and a solid conclusion.
Language Use and Conventions
Essay graders evaluate a student’s skill at using written language to clearly express ideas. A student’s grammar, spelling, and mechanics all play a part in a grader’s final evaluation of the essay. Incorrect punctuation and misspellings are a distraction for essay readers. A student who can use vocabulary, phrasing, and sentence style to convey ideas in an effective way will receive a high score in this domain.
Tips for Writing an ACT Essay
Students who want to excel on the ACT writing test should practice their essay-writing skills on a regular basis. This is all the more effective if a student studies high-scoring ACT essays. They can practice including all of the components necessary for an essay worthy of a high score.
Another tip for writing a convincing ACT essay is to learn new vocabulary words. Students can use these vocabulary words to fully express the ideas in their essay. Plus, learning these words can also be useful in answering questions in the reading section of the ACT. Students can also benefit from making practice outlines. A solid outline can help students organize all of their ideas and supporting evidence. Furthermore, an outline is a helpful guide if a student loses their train of thought while writing the essay on test day.
Our encouraging instructors at Veritas Prep can provide students with guidance on the essay portion of the ACT. Also, we can advise them on the various components of the ACT essay rubric. We hire instructors who achieved a score of at least 33 on the ACT: Veritas Prep students learn from tutors who have real-life experience with the exam! Choose from our in-person or online prep courses and gain the confidence you need to ace the ACT.
Still need to take the ACT? We run afree online ACT prep seminar every few weeks. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!
The New ACT Essay
Your Full Guide to ACT Writing Section
Since September of 2015, the ACT essay / writing section has gone through a radical change. And that’s amazing news for you.
The ACT essay was always easy to master with a bit of practice and the right techniques. However, the new ACT essay is even easier to perfect than the old one ever could have been. This short guide will teach you exactly what’s changing, how to prepare for the new essay, and how to take full advantage of this new format.
Why did ACT test change?
Honestly, unless you’re in the education business, you probably don’t care too much about the details. The short version: the ACT is trying to fit the CORE curriculum in the long-term hope of becoming a viable high school equivalency exam. By providing an essay that more closely matches and tests CORE standards, they’re hoping that they’ll continue dominating the SAT and become the obvious choice for American high school students. Again, this is amazing news. The CORE is extremely straightforward (and doesn’t incorporate any “tricks” or logical reasoning elements).
The new “CORE-friendly” ACT essay / writing portion just makes this test more beatable than it already was. I’ll leave the rest to the ACT’s PR team. For now, let’s get into what you should do about it.
What is Different?
The new ACT essay / writing section has a few more “moving parts” than the old version.
The old ACT writing / essay section gave you a simple prompt, then asked you to take a side on that prompt and argue your point. The basic format looked something like this:
“Watching TV can be bad for your brain. However, sometimes it’s educational, so some people think it’s good for your brain. So in your opinion, do you think that TV is good or bad?
In your essay, take a position on this question. You may write about either one of the two points of view given, or you may present a different point of view on this question. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.”
The old format couldn’t have been any simpler. “Here are two opinions on a topic. Pick one and then write about it for a few paragraphs.”
The new ACT writing / essay format is much more complicated. But here’s the funny thing:
while the new ACT writing / essay FORMAT is much more complex, the process of WRITING these essays has become VASTLY SIMPLER.
Here’s what it looks like now:
Take the time to read through all of this and really get a feel for what the new ACT writing / essay section looks like. Once you do, we shall move on:
How Do You Write This Thing
(and why is it so much easier)?
In the old ACT essay, you only had to do one thing – pick a side and argue it. Now, you have to do so much! You need to evaluate three different arguments, you need to come up with your own argument, and then you have to relate your argument to the three arguments given. Oh, the humanity!
But here’s the thing: in the old version of the ACT essay, you had to both come up with an argument and come up with the reasons why you support it. In the new ACT essay, all of the arguments and reasoning behind them is provided for you!
It’s the difference between being asked to “make lasagna or pizza for dinner tonight” and “grabbing something off the McDonald’s dollar menu.” Sure, there are more options on the McDonald’s menu – but they’re already cooked for you!
At first, it seems like there’s a ton more to do. In reality, the ACT is doing all of the hard work for you! All you need to do is read carefully, pick what you like, and then follow a simple process to “plug in your opinion.”
My Step by step process for Acing the New ACT Essay / Writing Section >
A reminder: If you’re eager to succeed with a proven ACT prep system to help you write a flawless essay check out my ACT prep program. It is built on my proven tactics and methodologies and has an average user score improvement of over +4.66 points.