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Kristin Fracchia

TuesdACT Video: How to Write a Top Scoring ACT Essay

Important Update: The ACT essay changed on September 12, 2015. We made you another version of this post, and wrote a post all about this new and different ACT essay: The New ACT Essay (Coming september 2015!) FAQs. Good luck! 🙂


So many students neglect the essay in their ACT prep. But this is a huge shame because it’s really, really easy to raise your ACT essay score if you just follow one simple writing tip: write for the graders.

So how do you write for these all-important graders? Well, first of all you have to remember that they are reading hundreds of essays and scoring every one of them on the same checklist. You can make their jobs easy by making it simple for them to check off the boxes.

And here are the biggies:

A Clear Thesis

Make sure it appears where they expect it to appear: at the end of your introductory paragraph. Basically you want to do everything by the book when you are writing your ACT essay; this is not the time to get fancy or creative. Make sure your thesis states your perspective on the debatable issue you are being presented.

As Many Supporting Arguments and Examples as Possible

Top scoring essays have specific arguments and specific examples. These can be personal examples from your life or the lives of your friends, things you’ve heard about in the news, things you know about from your classes. The more specific, the better (just make sure they are real, or at least plausible, examples). The essay graders reward this.

Remember the essay graders are reading tons of essays and they are reading fast! Don’t make them work for it, and you will be in awesome shape for a top-scoring essay.

Check out the video for more! And if you want to dig into the specifics on what the ACT essay is scored out of and what exactly the grader’s checklist (rubric) looks like, check out our links here!


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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