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Catrina Coffey

Can I Make Up Details on the ACT Essay?

Good morrow, Magooshers!

We’re going to be talking about one of my favorite ACT Writing Test topics today, but first, I need you to take a journey with me.


Imagine for a moment that it’s Test Day. You’re sitting in the classroom, taking your ACT. You’re at the Writing Test. No sweat, you can handle this, you’re prepared. You’re feeling cool and confident.

Then you read the prompt.

And you have no idea what to write.

Maybe you’ve never encountered this issue before. Maybe you’ve never thought about it. Maybe you have thought about it before and you know you should have an argument and it’s on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite get it out and is that a wasp in the room and HOW LONG HAVE I SPENT READING THIS OMGOMGOMG?!?!

You are feeling decidedly less cool and confident.


I sincerely hope none of that happens to you, and that Test Day goes so smoothly you could have napped through it. But if you really can’t think of an argument or a piece of evidence that supports your idea, you can use what I like to call “creative liberty”.

As my father says, truth only gets in the way of a good story. You have a certain level of “creative liberty” when it comes to your evidence. You can make up evidence and details if you need to, as long as they’re plausible. As far as the ACT is concerned, you can make up a book, survey, study, etc. that supports your argument. Just don’t give the author of your fictional study the name “Dr. J. Jacob Jingleheimer-Schmidt.”


Why is this okay on the ACT? Well, you’ve only got 40 minutes to come up with a clear, reasoned, well-supported, cogent, persuasive essay on the topic given to you. You don’t have the time or resources for research, but you have to make the argument somehow. If you had the ability to do even a quick Google search, you would. Since you can’t, make up something that sounds plausible if you have to. Just support your argument. That’s what the graders care about.


Note: This does not transfer as a strategy in real life. Do not make up evidence in real life. You will get in trouble. Seriously, don’t do it.

So, if you run into trouble coming up with arguments or evidence on the ACT Essay…



About Catrina Coffey

Catrina graduated from Rider University with a B.A. in English. She’s been helping students prepare for standardized tests since 2011. In her spare time, you can find her reading anything within arms’ reach, playing video games, correcting grammar, or studying word derivations. (Did you know that procrastinate comes from the Latin word cras, which means “tomorrow”?)

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