Although the ACT Writing section is optional, I highly recommended that high school students take this part of the test for two key reasons:
- To impress college admissions officers
- To help prepare themselves for college-level writing
If you earn a high ACT Writing score, admissions boards will know that you have the skills necessary to tackle the rigorous level of writing that will be asked of you when you’re taking classes in college, and it will increase your chances of getting into your desired school.
While doing well on the ACT Writing part of the ACT might seem challenging, the good news is that even if you do not consider yourself a strong writer, there are strategies you can use to earn a high score on this section of the ACT.
Here are a few tips that will help you get a great ACT Writing score:
1. Learn about essay scoring
Your essay will be scored by two graders who will give your essay a score between 1-6. These two scores will be combined to give you a possible ACT Writing score between 2-12.
If you want to wow the graders who are going to read your essay and earn a 12 for the ACT Writing section, you will need to know the criteria that contribute to scoring.
Here are the four categories that ACT Writing graders use to score essays:
Ideas and analysis: Are you able to craft an argument and analyze the arguments of others?
Organization: Do you have a logical flow of ideas?
Development and support: Can you back up your argument with concrete evidence and examples?
Language use and convention: Is your essay clear and coherent?
If you keep these categories in mind while preparing for and writing your essay, you will be better able to write an essay that meets the criteria for a high ACT Writing score.
2. Use at least three pages
While you should always prioritize quality over quantity when writing essays, the length of your essay actually does matter.
Essay graders tend to award higher scores to test takers with longer essays because these essays usually provide more analysis and examples. If your essay is only one page long, you likely do not have adequate information for the ideas and analysis or the development and support categories that graders consider while scoring essays.
3. Switch things up
When you are writing your essay, switch up your sentence structure and your word choice. If all of your sentences are simple sentences or you frequently use the same words or transitions, it will not bode well for your overall score.
Try to vary your sentence structure and use college-level vocabulary words throughout your essay in order to earn a higher score for this section.
4. Familiarize yourself with common ACT Writing prompts
Your essay will be a lot stronger if you already know what type of prompt to expect on test day. Take a look at some previous ACT Writing prompts to get an idea of the structure of this section of the test and how you should prepare.
5. Practice with extended time first
While this might seem counterintuitive, allowing yourself to have some extra time when you first start preparing for this section can help you learn how to craft a strong essay.
Try giving yourself an hour to write your essay until you can consistently write high-quality essays in this time. Then narrow the time to 50 minutes until you are ready to practice with the official time of 40 minutes that you will encounter on the ACT.
If you practice these five strategies, you will be able to improve your essay writing and earn a score that will look impressive to your prospective colleges and universities.
You can learn more tips and strategies to help you ace the ACT Writing section when you take an ACT prep course through Prep Expert or work with one of our expert private tutors. These Prep Expert resources will help you identify your weaknesses in the ACT Writing section so that you can improve your score and do well on this section. Sign up for an ACT prep course or private online ACT tutoring today when you visit our website.