Our guide will outline how to write an ACT essay and how to do your best on it. We will discuss ACT writing prompts and possible approaches. Also, we have new ACT essay examples you can draw inspiration from.
Let’s make this writing task a piece of cake for you! After reading this blog from our college essay services, we guarantee that you will become a rock star in ACT writing!
What Is ACT Writing?
First and foremost, let’s start with a definition of ACT writing and what you need to know about this test type. ACT writing portion is a 40-minute optional test that evaluates your ability to write and present 3 different perspectives on defined issues.
But why should you consider taking this writing part of a test if this task is not mandatory? The answer is easy – many universities still require students to take an ACT with writing. It depends on your future major and academic plans. For some admission commissions, the test without writing part will make you a weaker competitor.
This test assesses your skills in analytical thinking. In this essay, you must overview 3 sides of a debate topic, bring your approach, and point to reasonable evidence.
ACT Writing Test Overview
If you find a university you will apply to that requires an ACT writing test, don’t panic and start preparing. Our guide will go through each step of your writing and help you understand its basic principles. But first, let’s have a brief overview of this task and how it will be scored.
Critical points on your test:
- You have 40 minutes to write.
- You can use pen and paper only.
- Essay structure should be strictly followed.
You will structure your work this way:
- Evaluate 3 different angles of a prompt.
- Present your view or indicate which one you support.
- Explain the connection between your choice and other perspectives on a topic.
After you know what this essay includes, let’s discuss the scoring. What you should know about an ACT writing score? You will be evaluated based on 4 aspects:
- Ideas and analysis of a prompt Does your writing sample demonstrate clarity and provide an overview of all perspectives?
- Topic development How does your text develop and structure ideas in a coherent sample?
- Logic Does your text have a strong and reasonable structure that follows a logical flow?
- Language Does your essay contain grammar and spelling mistakes?
Two graders will evaluate your essay. Each one will grade your test on a score from 1 to 6. Finally, you will see the sum of those points from two graders, or in other words – a number from 2 to 12. An average score sum required by most universities is 8+. However, some Ivy League colleges may ask you to write your ACT essay with a 9+ score.
ACT Practice Writing Prompts
How to get the highest score on your test? Take any ACT writing practice test, understand your weaknesses, and continue training.
We prepared ACT writing prompts to illustrate how your essay can be structured, what templates to use, and how to succeed in this task. While looking for the best prompts, consider that this test was changed in 2015 and became a little more complicated. But we focused on the latest tests to give you the best possible examples and prompts.
Sample ACT Essay Prompt 1 & Analysis
In the following paragraphs, we will focus on an ACT writing prompt and how to ensure a successful essay score on a real test. Let’s choose one of the popular topics for your essay – Climate Change. We will show this topic's ACT writing test prompt and two essay samples.
We will also go through grading and explain why the first essay scored 1 and the second had the highest score - 6. These samples will undoubtedly inspire you and teach you how to write good texts.
Lately, a discussion around the urgency of action because of climate change has become one of the most popular. The data proves that governments of many countries failed to follow their agreement on reducing the negative influence on the environment. As a result, we all became affected by changing the weather, extreme heating, or heavy rain. Due to these changes, some countries, like Pakistan, have already lost territories and people. However, some scientists argue that climate change is a media topic that is not so urgent.
Read carefully three perspectives on how important and urgent are climate change issues. Each of them outlines a specific view of the human role in climate change.
Climate change is a very important issue that already influences thousands of people's lives and negatively affects many territories. This is why humanity should put all efforts into stopping the overall heating, reducing fossil fuel use, and transferring to renewables.
Climate change is a myth created by media and marketers who wants to influence the agenda. It is usually practiced when media alarm something that does not have much influence. Almost all research on climate change is fabricated. People should be more realistic about possible solutions and not go against nuclear power.
Climate change is a real issue, but governments can also solve it. It is impossible for people to solve it by themselves. The only way to survive and save the planet is to make governments act. This is their task to stop global heating and reduce fossil fuel use.
Write a coherent essay addressing what urgent climate change is and who is responsible for this situation. In your essay:
1. State your perspective and analyze how it connects to perspectives defined in a prompt.
2. Support your point with examples.
3. Structure your ideas.
❌ ACT Essay Example 1
The discussion around climate change has become very important in the last few years. However, the question is, how accurate is climate change? Maybe, it was fabricated by media and corporations to have an additional influence on governments.
I believe that only people alone are responsible for climate change. This is our goal to make any changes. If we want to change this situation with climate change, we need to start with ourselves. And we need to start with an urgent alarm that will bring this topic to a higher level of discussion. My point is based on a few pieces of evidence. First, we know how many plastics are used by ordinary people. Even reducing plastic in everyday life can help to change something. Secondly, we can reduce the negative influence on the environment by changing our eating habits and moving to a vegetarian diet.
My idea is mainly related to the first perspective described in the essay task. I believe climate change is the most urgent topic for now, but only humans can change something by doing even small steps.
To conclude, I think that we need to bring more attention to the causes of climate change and focus on small things that every person can do.
Let’s examine an ACT essay score and analyze why the sample above will get the lowest score. We will go through each point for grading.
This essay's author did not analyze all perspectives provided in a task. Their idea supports the first perspective, but it was not clearly identified. The analysis is weak, with no examples or facts supporting the idea.
The author tried to develop the topic but did not manage to move further. They only overview points but are not developed more profoundly into a better text.
The essay sample has some logical problems. For example, there is no connection between a vegetarian diet and climate change. Connections are too weak.
The language is very basic. The author uses only general words, not many synonyms, and only superficial questions.
Here you can see that based on all 4 grading points, the essay sample will get the lowest score. However, the same topic can be developed much better, with real examples and more substantial argumentation. It is possible to score your essay with the highest grade even by choosing the same perspective.
✓ Essay Writing Sample 2
There is no shortage of opinions on how emergent the climate change issue is and what the way to solve it is. In the essay task, we found three different perspectives on this topic. The first one is to stand on the position that climate change is the most urgent topic for humanity, and even small steps by ordinary humans can change the situation. The second one pointed out that there is no such issue as climate change, and the media and marketers created it. And the last one, and most realistic in my opinion, is that climate change is a problem, but only governmental politics can make a difference in it.
A bunch of facts and evidence support my point of view. First and foremost, we need to evaluate the number of considerable productions in each country. Manufacturers make up 75% of the pollution, which definitely relies on government regulations. It means we can not change the situation significantly only by ourselves.
Secondly, we need to analyze the biggest causes of climate change. One of them is fossil fuel and deep ocean mining, which governments lead.
I also believe no evidence proves climate change is a myth. We can see how devastating rain is in Pakistan - the first country heavily damaged by climate change. It is a real case, not just a conspiracy belief.
To conclude, I would suggest activists put more effort into pushing governments to act to stop climate change.
This essay is much more logical and well-structured and definitely will get the highest score. Let’s look at each ACT essay scoring section to understand what makes this text better and more effective.
This essay has a great idea that supports the third perspective and provides additional argumentation. You can see that all perspectives are analyzed, and the author evaluates each idea before pointing it out on his own.
The author started with one simple statement and developed it into a suggestion for dealing with climate change. Also, they provide detailed examples and numbers to support their point of view.
This text is well-structured, and you can see a clear logic of why the author believes in the third perspective. Their argumentation is clear and reasonable.
This second essay has more complicated sentences and advanced word usage. It makes graders believe that their language skills are at the highest level!
The second essay is more robust and better for students who need high grades. However, the structure of each essay is the same. If you find the best structure for you, there will be no problem with any topic for such a task.
Sample ACT Essay Prompt 2 & Analysis
You may think that an essay topic can influence ACT essay prompts. However, we are talking about standardized tests. You can complete excellent writing on any topic if you learn how to structure your text and what will make your test better. But you need to practice! Here is another example with a detailed analysis to illustrate the possible development of a topic and underline essential tips to make your paper better graded. Let’s look at the essay on paid/free medicine.
There is a belief in a lot of countries that medicine should be free for anyone. The topic of paid medicine has become one of the most discussed in recent years. For example, the United States is a well-known country with paid and expensive medicine. However, in many European countries, like Germany and France, people can get quality medical help without any payment, as they have already paid taxes.
Read carefully three perspectives on paid medicine. Each of them outlines a specific view on how much people should pay for medical support, and it is possible to make the medicine entirely accessible to anyone.
If you want to have a quality and effective medical system in your country, it should be paid for by everyone. The US system is one of the best for today and should be an example for others.
It should be a reasonable price for some procedures not covered by free medical support. In other words, you should pay for extra, not urgent, support. It will help the system to develop and become better.
All medicine should be free. Even complicated surgeries must be paid for by the government budget. People should not be afraid to go to a doctor because of possible expensive procedures. They pay taxes, and the state should use them for free medicine.
Write a coherent essay addressing the discussion of paid instead of free medicine. In your essay:
1. State your perspective and analyze how it connects to perspectives defined in a prompt.
2. Support your point with examples.
3. Structure your ideas.
❌ Writing Essay Sample 1
One of today's biggest discussions is about paid medicine and how it should be developed worldwide. While there is a lot of support for the third perspective, described in a task. People believe they should not pay for medicine, as this is a basic need for everyone. However, I disagree with this point, as I support a capitalistic point of view. I believe people need to pay for quality medicine help, which is the only way to build an effective medical system in any country.
That is why I have this point of view. First, we need to learn from the best world examples. This is definitely the US. Doctors in the US are very prestigious professionals, and they need to put a lot of effort into working in a clinic. Also, the best surgeries and innovators live in the US. It became possible to launch complicated research only because of funding.
This is why I believe we need to pay for quality help, as this is the only reason to develop the system.
Clearly, this essay is not bad, but not the best one you can create. Applying an ACT writing score range, we would say this one about medicine will be in the middle. Detailed analysis of its pros and cons will help you improve your writing piece.
This essay definitely outlines the main idea and stands on it from the beginning to the end. But there are some issues with analysis. The evidence supporting the defined position is too weak. It will be better to include some realistic numbers in case you have some in your mind.
The author tried to develop his position into a reasonable statement but did not connect it with other positions from the tasks. It could be developed deeper.
There is some logic in building the argumentation, but it could be more consistent. It is hard to follow the author's ideas and prove their position.
The language is also not too rich for getting the highest score. It could be improved by using synonyms and more complicated sentences.
In general, this is a good example of an essay for a score of 3. It is not too simple and unstructured to get 1 or 2. However, there are a lot of improvements that can make the text more readable.
✓ ACT Writing Sample 2
There is no single opinion on building the country's best medical system. While some people believe that the best way is to make medical help paid, others think that the government should cover all medical expenses for people. I personally stand on the position that medicine should be free for everyone. I believe paid and partly-paid medicine discussed in this task is not a way to achieve transparency and democracy.
First and foremost, paid medicine will divide people into groups - those who can pay and get qualitative help and those who will die because of no money. Let’s look at death statistics in the US, the country with paid and costly medicine. Almost 40% of people died last year because they could not pay their doctor or ask for help.
The idea of developing a medical system based on money clinics get from patients is dangerous. People pay taxes anyway, and these taxes should be invested into building a clinic of the future.
For this reason, I believe the only way to make any nation healthy is to pay for medical help from taxes, not from additional citizen payments.
Essay Scoring Analysis
You can see that the second essay looks stronger. We will analyze it based on an ACT writing score scale to illustrate what makes the text better. Let’s discuss each of the four aspects of scaling the writing sample.
The author is evident with their position and outlines the main idea in the introduction. Also, they analyze other perspectives from the task and provide a structured position on why they do not support them. You can see a connection between all positions and a clear explanation of the author's idea.
The author develops the topic by pointing to examples and data. If you know any numbers supporting your position, including them and showing that you are confident in your ideas is better.
Essay structure has a flow logic. Every new fact or position is based on logic. You can easily follow the author's argumentation.
You can find more advanced words in the text and complicated sentences. If you want to get a higher score, you need to use more complete structures in your writing. With simple sentences and a basic lexicon, you won’t get 6.
This essay will get the highest 6 scores from graders.
How to Write the ACT Essay
Next, we will learn how to write an ACT essay step-by-step. You can see different samples and understand how your work will be scored. But how to write an essay and get the highest grade? Let’s go through each stage of ACT writing essay creation and clarify the importance of each step. Finally, our goal is to make you a proficient writer who is ready to work on any task without worrying about any topic.
1. Brainstorm the ACT Writing Prompt
Research is an essential step in creating an advanced essay. First, you must analyze act writing prompts and find as many arguments for your text as possible.
Look at the selected ACT essay prompt from various angles and try to understand why this topic became part of the discussion. Refrain from sticking with the first idea you will have. Analyze all three perspectives and understand which will be the most successful. Identify all viable arguments for each stand.
It is better to spend more time brainstorming than re-write the whole essay when you understand you have limited argumentation for a selected position.
2. Carefully Consider the Perspectives
You will have three different perspectives in your ACT prompt, and you need to analyze each before defining your line. Choose the perspective that will help you to create an excellent ACT essay.
Usually, one perspective will support a topic, one will be against it, and one will be in the middle. Which one to choose for your test? First, define what each perspective considers and how you can develop this line. Second, think about possible argumentation you can use. You need to choose the one you will feel confident about.
3. Come Up With Your Perspective
After analyzing three topic perspectives, choose one for your essay. Remember that your attitude should be unique. It means you should not select one angle from the given task and state it. Try to combine ideas, and include a brief analysis of them from your point of view. If you want the highest score, your line and argumentation should not copy the one from ACT essay prompts.
Writing the ACT essay is simple if you use unique ideas for the structure. Reread the topic and define which line is not represented in given perspectives.
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4. Write Your ACT Essay
You analyzed all perspectives for discussion, chose a unique line for your argumentation, and are ready to start working on ACT writing. What is next? The next step is working with an ACT essay format and structure.
Create an outline of an essay. It means you must define what you will discuss in each section.
Your text structure will be simple:
ACT Essay Template
Here, you can find a template that is applicable to any topic. You can memorize or save it for your test practice.
5. Proofread Your Writing
Like any other type of writing work, an ACT essay should be proofread before submission. You will have only 40 minutes to write 300+ words using a paper and pen. You need to have sufficient time at the end of your test to check spelling and grammar mistakes. An ACT writing section can be stressful, as you have limited time and must clearly illustrate your ability to think and analyze. You may write your essay in a rush and make some mistakes in spelling words. Plan around 5 minutes for essay revision.
ACT Writing Tips
The best way to ensure a high score on your exam day is to write an ACT practice essay and analyze your text based on a scoring system. Clear structure, advanced essay template, and robust perspective analysis for your statement are critical for scoring.
However, there are a few more ACT essay tips for your test day:
- Start with research and analysis.
- Create an outline before starting to write.
- Mention all 3 perspectives, especially the one that opposes your statements.
- Use a unique statement for your essay.
- Always proofread – it is better to submit clean text without mistakes that write more words than needed.
Bottom Line on ACT Writing Prompts
You are at the end of a detailed guide sample ACT essay writing. In a few paragraphs, we shared with you a few ACT prompts and identified critical steps in creating advanced writing. Remember that this task is not mandatory for test takers.
But if you are already here, your University may require it. Do not panic! This is a standard test, and you can do your best by learning from ACT writing examples and focusing on templates we prepared for you. Be clear with your idea, analyze other topic perspectives, be unique, and use advanced vocabulary for this test! And you will succeed!
If you found our blog post on the ACT essay helpful, you may also need a guide on how to write an SAT essay.
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FAQ About ACT Writing Prompts
1. How long is the ACT with writing?
An ACT essay is only a 40-minute test, and it will present one writing prompt that describes a complex topic and provide three perspectives for analysis in your writing section. You won’t be able to write more than 250-300 words. Focus on test quality, not the number of words.
2. What is a good ACT writing score?
An average ACT writing score is 6.5 and above. It will work for a lot of Universities. However, you may need 8 or more on this test for highly competitive schools. If you apply to a top university or Ivy League, a good score is 10, 11, or 12.
3. Does the ACT essay affect your score?
No, this section does not affect your subject area scores or Composite scores. ACT essay scoring is essential only for a few Universities. And if you are unsure if you need it, it's better to take it. It won’t change your general test scores. Do not be worried about this section a lot!
4. What is an average ACT writing score?
Two graders will grade your work, and each one can grade you in four categories from 1 to 6. This is how you can get from 2 to 12 points in each category. In sum, you will have a score between 2 and 12, which is your average ACT writing score.