The ACT essay aims to reflect the critical thinking that colleges are demanding from students. Standardized test essays allow colleges to evaluate how a student interprets a question, identifies a theme, and organizes evidence.
The optional essays require additional registration and extra payment for them to be evaluated and scored. Submitting the essay scores allow for colleges to review this additional measurement criterion in how a student organizes their thoughts and write within time limitations.
There are four blank pages to write the response, compared to two pages from previous years. The ACT essay is 40 minutes. The goal is for the student to read, analyze and write a compelling argument to support a theme.
The ACT Essay
With the new ACT essay, there is a prompt and three general opinions. In tutoring my students to prepare for the exam, I suggest grouping them as "papa bear, mama bear, and baby bear." The student must present a theme or point of view based on the position they agree with the most.
The ACT essay is structured by either refuting or agreeing with the opinions depending on the theme's position. The student's evidence should highlight personal experience, historical significance, or current events that substantiate why or why not an opinion is valid.
The ACT essay is given at the end of the test, after nearly four hours of testing. Writing with structure is critical to present a central argument, support ideas with evidence, and formulate a clear conclusion. This writing style is similar to an author analysis or research paper where substantiating the facts reinforces the thesis. Being able to submit a top score on the ACT essay further differentiates students from their peers since most students avoid taking the 'optional' essay.
Scoring is focused on quality, not quantity. You are rated on how clearly you present you main idea, support and analyze evidence and develop your point of view, and how well you use language throughout the essay. Your essay score represents the quality of your ideas and the organization of your thoughts. It is not the position you take, but how well you state your case and support it. Practice makes perfect!
Organizing your time is key. In working together, students will learn how to streamline the pre-writing process, structure your outline, compose your ideas, and proofread your work. The essay is your opportunity to engage the reader and break-through the clutter of other essays. It is your timed-approach to structured writing that will be your chance to shine!