ACT Writing Skills

Which exact skills will be tested on the ACT Writing Test

There are no sub-scores associated with the ACT Writing test. However, there are several skills which will be addressed and assessed by the readers who will grade your essay:

Organization: Essays will have to progress in a logical way. Avoid jumping around from topic to topic. Remember that a proper essay has an introductory paragraph, a body in which the topic is explored, and a concluding paragraph in which all of the loose ends of the argument are tied together and restated. It is also important to use clear but smooth transitions between the parts of your essay and of your argument.

Language Usage and Grammar: Proper spelling and grammar are required in this portion of the test. Remember, there will be no dictionaries or spell-checking available to you! Vocabulary, word choice, and sentence structure are also important.

Voice and Style: You should try your best to not only write a correct essay but an engaging one. Keep your style and voice consistent throughout the essay as well.

Logical Arguments: You will be taking a position on a topic that affects yourself and your peers. You must provide logical evidence to your arguments. You must also address each point of the question or prompt and take other points of view into consideration. The more complexity and depth you can display in terms of your line of thinking, the better.

Context: Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. You should present your situation in a broader context whenever possible in order to show the depth of your understanding and the implications that your argument could have if it were to be implemented in real life.

Staying focused: It is important to stay focused on the given topic. Going off on tangents or losing the focus of the essay is a common mistake.

I have an answer to the essay prompt that might be controversial. Should I avoid using it?

No! You will not be graded on your actual answer to the question. You are graded on how well you present your argument in the essay and how well you incorporate both broader contexts and other points of view within your essay. It is much easier to write a good and logical argument on a topic that you truly believe in as opposed to picking something that you may feel is ‘safe’ but is boring to you.

I have terrible handwriting and/or spelling! What should I do?

Many of us are used to completing assignments on computers — so unfortunately, we have forgotten the skills of handwriting and of spelling words properly without spell-check. The time to begin practicing is now! When you are practicing for the ACT Writing test, write your answer out on paper instead of typing it. Yes, real dead-tree paper! After you finish, use a dictionary to look up words that you feel may be misspelled. One or two small errors will not have a big impact on your score, but if you have a real problem with misspelling words, you may want to memorize how to spell words with which you consistently have trouble. As for the handwriting, practice writing as legibly as possible. As long as the readers can read your handwriting, that is all that matters!

Ask a Question