How to Prepare for the ACT Test Writing
The Writing section of the ACT test involves more than being able to form sentences, spell words correctly, and put periods in the right places. While evaluators will be looking for these things, too, the main things they seek involve your ability to think, reason, and put thoughts on paper, in a clear and meaningful way.
The test contains one question, or prompt and three reference passages. You will have 40 minutes to plan, write, and review an essay that addresses the prompt, using evidence in the reference passages. The three passages are different perspectives on the same topic. Evaluators will be looking for how well you do these things in your essay:
- evaluate and analyze the perspectives
- state and develop your perspective
- explain the relationship between your perspective and those given in the three passages
- Ideas and Analysis
- Development and Support
- Language Use and Conventions
It really doesn’t matter what your perspective is, just how well you defend it in your writing.
The desired essay skills are divided here into the four domains in which your writing will be scored. Your final Writing score will be between 2 and 12.
Within each domain, the evaluators will decide to what degree you accomplish several tasks. The better you perform, the more points you will receive.
For example, one of the tasks in the “Ideas and Analysis” domain is to “engage” with the perspectives you are given. The language in the scoring guidelines goes from a high of “critically engages with” through “productively engages with,” “engages with,” “responds to,” and “weakly responds to.” The lowest descriptor of performance on this task is “fails to respond to.” Your performance on this task and several others will combine to form your score on this domain, which will be between 1 and 6.
So, in this case, if you perform at the highest level on “engaging” and perform at that same high level on the other three tasks in the domain, you will score 6 for the “Ideas and Analysis” domain. You will get one score from each of two evaluators for each domain. The two scores will be averaged to form your score on that domain, which will be between 2 and 12. This domain score will be one of your four scores for writing. Your final Writing score will be the rounded average of your four domain scores.
Try some “practice” essays and see if you can incorporate all of these skills in your writing. You can begin by writing without a time limit, but you’ll want to gradually work toward planning, writing, and reviewing an essay of this type within a 40-minute window.