Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What to Know Before Taking the ACT Writing Portion?

ACT bookletI hope to teach eleventh grade English/literature, so I know my students will be concerned about standardized testing for college. I took the writing portion a few years ago and I just wanted to refresh my memory of it.
The writing portion on the ACT is optional, but people recommend students to take it anyway in case they chose to go to a college that wants to see a writing score. The writing portion is timed, allowing only thirty minutes for students to answer a persuasive prompt . When testing is over the prompts are sent to the ACT grading center and are graded by a six-point rubric.
I know that if I took it a few years ago and had to refresh my memory, then high school teachers would probably have to do the same. I write this for the teachers because I know how it feels to be a student who stresses about the quality of their future.

With only thirty minutes to answer an unpredictable prompt, construct an idea, brainstorm, and compose, you start to wonder if it's possible to make a perfect score. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I wasn't exposed to a lot of persuasive writing when I took the writing portion, so I made an average score. Now that I'm much more educated in writing, I the know methods and skills I wish I had. Share this with your students.
  • Practice and accept that you can't predict your prompt.
It's easy to get overwhelmed with worrying to make a perfect score. It's possible to make a perfect score, but you can't predict your prompt. Tell your students to do is practice with sample prompts to become more comfortable with the demands of the writing portion especially if they are the type who needs a ample amount of brainstorming time.

  • Develop an outline to follow (use about five-ten minutes)
  • Develop a brief counter argument to be ethical and use rhetoric to diminish the counterargument.
College is an environment unlike high school. Most students are away from their parents now and they begin to develop their own uninfluenced opinion on controversial issues. In college, that is long as you can defend it. During the writing portion, be ethical to bring up the counter argument and don't hesitate to expose why the counter argument is wrong. That's the art of persuasive writing.
  • Signpost through topic sentences.
 Keep your reader focused with details that proved you have a well thought out paper. Always start each paragraph with topic changes that foreshadow (signpost) the idea for that paragraph.
  • Remember sentence fluency and paragraph unity.
Nothing is worse than reading jumbled thoughts that make no sense.
  • Make sure it's organized and developed. Correct any grammar, mechanics errors, and misspelling.
  • Voice    
Show yourself on that paper. Make it known that you stand for your argument and let it reflect on the paper!

If anybody knows any more tips please email me at and I'll make a new post highlighting them and giving credit to you. Thanks!

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