The optional ACT Writing takes place immediately after the main four sections of the test are taken. Students get 40 minutes to plan and write an essay responding to the prompt. The overall score is out of 36, and there are four sub-scores given in separate categories. The essay score stands alone and is averaged with the English and reading sections for a separate language arts scored, named ELA (English Language Arts). Students who want to score highly on the ACT essay need to be prepared and aware of the components of the prompt and scoring rubric.
The most important piece of guiding information in your essay is the prompt itself. A single paragraph will describe a relatable issue regarding contemporary society, and below this are three different perspectives on the issue. The perspectives are important because they must be discussed throughout the essay, even if your own thesis falls outside of them. In order to stay on topic when writing, it is important to carefully read and understand these three perspectives.
Students are scored in four domains: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use. Understanding the ACT’s scoring rubric is helpful to grasp exactly what belongs in a good essay. Using it as a blueprint as you plan your essay will help ensure that you meet the points ACT essay graders are looking for. Let’s take a brief look at the four categories: