ACT Writing Tips

Before test day

  • Practice both reading and writing thought-out and logical expository essays. Use practice ACT writing prompts to construct essays using the skills addressed in the previous page. Think about ‘hot topics’ that are being faced by young people today, since there is a good chance that you may have to take a position on the issue on the ACT writing test.
  • Practice your writing process. You only have 30 minutes with which to construct your essay, so practice different brainstorming and/or pre-writing activities which will help you gather your thoughts and construct a logical and well thought out essay. Find out which one works best for you before test day!
  • Review the common format of an essay (introduction, body and conclusion) and experiment with how your mind works best when writing an essay. For example, many people will write the body of the essay first, and then go back at the end and construct the introduction.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Ask peers or teachers to look over your practice essays and to mark mistakes so that you can pinpoint your mistakes. Look online or at ACT prep books to see essays which received high scores and try to include some of the same aspects and formatting into your own writing.
  • There are now many ACT prep courses which address only the Writing test. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these. These courses will help you understand how best to construct a logical and well thought-out essay that will get you that coveted score of 12!

On test day

  • Read the prompt carefully. You will be expected to answer every part of the question, so don’t read over it too quickly!
  • Keep track of the time. 30 minutes can go by rather quickly. There is no set length required for your essay. It is better to write a short but well thought out essay than to begin a long essay that you are unable to complete in 30 minutes!
  • Don’t be afraid to spend a few minutes on your brainstorming or pre-writing. You will write much more quickly and logically if you have your thoughts together before you plunge into writing the essay. Be sure to think about other possible answers to the prompt, since you will be expected to take other points of view into consideration in your essay.
  • Don’t forget the rules of proper English grammar! You will lose points if you make multiple grammar and usage errors. Though it is aimed at people learning English, EngVid has a large collection of free videos explaining common grammar mistakes in English. Take a look at their videos and see if you need to brush up on any of these issues.
  • If you have extra time at the end, go back and check for any errors. Make sure that your reading is legible and that you make any corrections as clearly and neatly as possible.

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