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Kristin Fracchia

TuesdACT: Meet the New Enhanced ACT Writing Test

The New ACT Essay: Part 2!

This week we are talking once again about the new ACT essay premiering on the September 2015 test because we’ve gotten SO many questions about it! You can check out our first video–All About the New ACT Essay–for some basic tips on how to conquer the new essay, but we wanted to give you even more! In the video above, you’ll find the answers to some really good questions we’ve been getting from students about the new ACT Writing test.

If you haven’t checked out Part 1, take a look at that video first so you can familiarize yourself with the format of the new essay. Here’s a quick refresher, though: the new ACT essay prompt presents three different viewpoints on a debatable topic and asks students to evaluate these perspectives and present their own viewpoint on the issue. (You can see an example here).

Now, let’s get into some of the questions students have been asking us about this new essay type.

Question 1: Do I have to write about all three perspectives?

This is an easy one. The answer is Yes. 100% Yes! The question asks you to evaluate all of the perspectives. So if you leave one out, it is really going to hurt your score. This doesn’t mean you need to give equal weight to each of the perspectives, but you do need to at least mention each of them and provide some type of evaluation.

Question 2: Do you have to include arguments/examples both for and against each perspective?

When you are evaluating each of the perspectives, you do NOT necessarily need to include examples or arguments both for and against each of them. The most important thing is that you support your own perspective throughout the essay. So do what works for you: you can choose to either support OR challenge each perspective. You don’t have to do both. Of course, you might choose to include examples and arguments from the opposing side so that you can refute them. This can sometimes help strengthen an argument, but it’s not necessary.

Question 3: Where can I find practice prompts?

The ACT has released two practice prompts so far. You can find one on the ACT student website under the Writing section (it’s about “Intelligent Machines”) and you can find another one in the Preparing for the ACT guide (it’s about “Public Health and Individual Freedom”). We’ve also made you practice prompts at Magoosh! You can find one of them for free here and the others in Magoosh ACT.

Question 4: Are there other prompts I can practice with to get better at ACT writing?

This is a tough one. Really the best way to practice for the ACT essay is to practice with ACT essay questions. But because there aren’t a ton of them out there yet, my suggestion if you need more to practice with is to use a website like procon.org or idebate.org. These are websites that present you with controversial issues and different perspectives on them, so you can practice coming up with your own opinions and examples and honing your ability to consider opposing arguments.

Check out the video for more! And if you want more help on the ACT essay or any other section of the test, we have hundreds of lessons and questions for you to practice with in Magoosh!

About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's blogs are chock-full of awesome, free resources for students preparing for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agonizing bliss of marathon running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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