ACT Writing Prompts | Real World Examples

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The best way to prepare for the ACT Writing section is getting an idea of what you’ll actually face beforehand. To make life easier, here are a number of previous ACT Writing prompts to practice with before test day.

Here are some additional ACT Writing section hacks to help prepare you before test day.

ACT Writing

The ACT Writing section is the only optional one on the test.

Students have 40 minutes to write one essay. Students will receive an essay prompt providing three different perspectives on a specific issue.

It is then up to the student to write an original essay that presents their own views on the stated issue. However, that view must relate to one of the prompt’s provided perspectives.

Once submitted, two graders evaluate the essay on a scale of 1 to 6 across 4 criteria:

  • Ideas and Analysis
  • Development and Support
  • Organization
  • Language Use and Convention

Students receive a total writing score averages together these criteria subscores.

ACT Writing Prompts: Example 1

Intelligent Machines (source: ACT.org )

Many of the goods and services we depend on daily are now supplied by intelligent, automated machines rather than human beings. Robots build cars and other goods on assembly lines, where once there were human workers. Many of our phone conversations are now conducted not with people but with sophisticated technologies. We can now buy goods at a variety of stores without the help of a human cashier. Automation is generally seen as a sign of progress, but what is lost when we replace humans with machines? Given the accelerating variety and prevalence of intelligent machines, it is worth examining the implications and meaning of their presence in our lives.

Perspective One: What we lose with the replacement of people by machines is some part of our own humanity. Even our mundane daily encounters no longer require from us basic courtesy, respect, and tolerance for other people.

Perspective Two: Machines are good at low-skill, repetitive jobs, and at high-speed, extremely precise jobs. In both cases they work better than humans. This efficiency leads to a more prosperous and progressive world for everyone.

Perspective Three: Intelligent machines challenge our long-standing ideas about what humans are or can be. This is good because it pushes both humans and machines toward new, unimagined possibilities.

Write a unified, coherent essay about the increasing presence of intelligent machines.

ACT Writing Prompts: Example 2

Public Health and Individual Freedom (source: ACT.org )

Most people want to be healthy, and most people want as much freedom as possible to do the things they want. Unfortunately, these two desires sometimes conflict. For example, smoking is prohibited from most public places, which restricts the freedom of some individuals for the sake of the health of others. Likewise, car emissions are regulated in many areas in order to reduce pollution and its health risks to others, which in turn restricts some people’s freedom to drive the vehicles they want. In a society that values both health and freedom, how do we best balance the two? How should we think about conflicts between public health and individual freedom?

Perspective One: Our society should strive to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number of people. When the freedom of the individual interferes with that principle, freedom must be restricted.

Perspective Two: Nothing in society is more valuable than freedom. Perhaps physical health is sometimes improved by restricting freedom, but the cost to the health of our free society is far too great to justify it.

Perspective Three: The right to avoid health risks is a freedom, too. When we allow individual behavior to endanger others, we’ve damaged both freedom and health.

Write a unified, coherent essay about the conflict between public health and individual freedom.

ACT Prompt Example 3

Kid Stuff (source: ACT.org )

Toys are for children, right? Not anymore. In recent years, things that used to be considered “”kid stuff”” have grown in popularity among grownups. Nowadays, adults regularly play video games, watch animated movies and television show, purchase dolls and other collectible figures, and read comic books for their own enjoyment. Is adult enjoyment of children’s entertainment merely a sign of immaturity? In what ways can playing with kid stuff change the way adults understand today’s youth? Given that toys, games, and publications that used to be exclusively for children are growing in popularity among adults, it is worth considering the effects and implications of this trend.

Perspective One: It’s good for adults to be familiar with kid stuff. They’ll understand the lives of children better and be more responsive to their needs, interests, and problems.

Perspective Two: Adults need to be models of maturity and responsibility. When they act and think like children, kids have no one to look to for guidance.

Perspective Three: Children need their own cultural space—their own books, their own toys, their own movies—in which to explore their ideas. When adults start to take over the space, kids lose out.

Write a unified, coherent essay about the trend of adults playing with kid stuff.

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