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Kristin Fracchia

ACT Writing Prompt for the New ACT Essay

In need of another sample essay prompt for the new ACT essay in addition to what has been released by the test-makers? First check out our FAQs on the new essay here; then set aside the time to outline an essay (or write the whole thing) on the prompt below!


Almost since human beings began sharing ideas, the issue of censorship (officially suppressing ideas or writing) has been debated. Proponents of censorship argue, for example, that offensive material might morally corrupt children or that governments have the right to protect their national secrets. Opponents argue that censorship infringes on individual freedom and hinders progress. Censorship has long been an issue regarding books and papers; now, it has become a critical issue concerning the great amount of information on the Internet. Given the continued impact of censorship on various aspects of our lives, it is an issue worth examining.

Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each suggests a particular way of thinking about the impact of censorship.

Perspective One

Selective censorship prevents children from being exposed to offensive material. It allows parents and caretakers to determine what material children are ready for and when they are ready based on their maturity level.

Perspective Two

Censorship intrudes upon freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Individuals have the right to learn about their world, both its positive and negative aspects, and express their ideas on it.

Perspective Three

Censorship should not be condoned because it places too much power in the hands of a few: no government or leadership system should be allowed to decide what information should reach the public.

Essay Task

Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the impact of censorship on society. In your essay, be sure to:

  • analyze and evaluate the perspectives given
  • state and develop your own perspective on the issue
  • explain the relationship between your perspective and those given

Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.


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About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's sites are full of awesome, free resources that can be found by students prepping 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 agony and bliss of trail running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

22 Responses to “ACT Writing Prompt for the New ACT Essay”

  1. Akash says:

    I am having trouble writing an essay with this prompt/
    I’m taking the ACT test on September 12 and am worried about the new writing section.
    So I decided to practice with this prompt. (I have already done the two prompts given by ACT inc.)
    However, this prompt does not ask a question. The other two prompts have questions (ex: What is lost when we replace humans with machines?)
    So i’m not sure what to write about.
    Do I just discuss the good and bad about censorship?

    • Kristin Fracchia Kristin Fracchia says:

      Hi Akash,

      That’s a great question!

      The actual “question” (which is the same on every new ACT essay) is actually the “Essay Task” portion of the prompt. The question “What is lost when we replace humans with machines?” in the ACT’s sample prompt is really just part of the introductory discussion–to get your mental juices flowing–not the actual question you are supposed to answer. The “question” (for every new ACT essay) is to state and develop your own perspective on the provided issue (whether that is intelligent machines or censorship). This means you need to decide which of the three perspectives you agree with and argue for that position, or you could choose to partially agree with one of the three perspectives, or you could argue for an entirely different perspective. In other words, the ACT is looking for you to state your own opinion on this issue and whether or not it is a good thing. That means for this sample prompt on censorship that you should state in your thesis statement something like “Censorship should not be condoned because….” or “Censorship should be allowed in certain circumstances because…”, whatever you think about the issue. If you haven’t seen it already, there’s more advice on answering the new essay prompt here: https://magoosh.com/act/2015/the-new-act-essay-coming-september-2015-faqs/. Let me know if that helps or if you have more questions!

  2. Isha says:

    Hi Kristin, I’m taking the ACT on 12th of September.

    I’ve practiced the prompts provided by ‘The ACT’ & ‘MAGOOSH’.

    As in the old ACT, the essay questions basically revolved around ‘student matters’, can you please tell what will be the core topic of the new essay format?

    • Kristin Fracchia Kristin Fracchia says:

      Hi Isha!

      Well, it’s a little early to know what the definitive pattern might be, but the two sample prompts that the ACT has released so far have been on “censorship” and “public health and freedom,” so I think it is safe to say the ACT has stepped up its game a little bit in terms of sophistication, and we aren’t as likely to see prompts on “student matter” topics such as whether or not students should have to wear school uniforms. Nevertheless, the topics must still be on something that every high school student, regardless of their background, should be able to relate to in some capacity (otherwise there would be a big backlash about unfairness), so you aren’t likely to see topics that are overly specialized. So this means that even if you don’t feel like you have expansive knowledge on an issue, your supporting examples could still be “student-centered.” For example, if the prompt is on “public health and freedom” (http://www.act.org/aap/pdf/Preparing-for-the-ACT.pdf) you could talk about nutrition requirements in your school cafeteria, and that would be perfectly acceptable. Basically, don’t be intimidated by the likely “big ideas” the ACT is going to be throwing at students with the new essay prompt, any topic they give you must necessarily be broad enough that the average high school student could find some “in” to the topic. 🙂

      • Isha says:

        Hey Kristin! (again)
        thanks a lot for your help. In the above essay, I chose to write from perspective-2. I’m totally confused on how to argue with perspective-3?
        ….I see no pretty difference between both of them.
        Please help!

        • Kristin Fracchia Kristin Fracchia says:

          Hi Isha, yes, I can see how they do seem pretty similar (since they are both arguing against censorship). However, there is a difference in their reasons. Perspective 2 is about individual freedoms (for example, we should be allowed to express our opinions on whatever we want in a free country and no one should decide what can and can’t be expressed). Perspective 3 is about control. Censorship allows a few people’s opinions to control everyone. Remember that when you are writing your essay, you could potentially craft an argument that agrees with multiple perspectives. Or you could agree with one and reject another rationale that on the surface seems to be supporting your same viewpoint. For example, you could say that it is not a matter of individual freedom–that there are some modes of “free speech” that are widely disapproved of, such as hate speech. This is something that is widely agreed upon by the public and so should not be allowed. But allowing just a few people to decide what can be expressed or not is dangerous (maybe those people don’t like turtles and say no one can talk positively about turtles, even though the vast majority of the public wouldn’t agree with that viewpoint.) So maybe THAT is why you say censorship REALLY shouldn’t be allowed. That’s just one example…does that make sense?  You may find that two of the perspectives are arguing “for” or “against” something on the new ACT essay, but their reasons for doing so are different.  

  3. Trang says:

    Hi Kristin. 
    I’m taking the ACT on 12th September but I don’t really know how to do the new writing part

    With the Perspective, do I have to discuss and give example for every single one and state which one I agree with? 

    And can you post one good example how the essay should be? 

    Thank you

    • Kristin Fracchia Kristin Fracchia says:

      Hi Trang, good question. You do have to discuss and evaluate all three perspectives to get full credit. Supporting examples for each one are going to help support your evaluation of each perspective and so yes, you should have at least one example/reason for each one. The easiest (and perfectly acceptable!) option is to agree with one of the perspectives outright. You also have the option of presenting your own perspective, which also works, but it means you have to write about even more in the limited time frame. If you find you can agree with one of the perspectives and come up with good examples for it, that would be my suggestion. You can get a great score (even a perfect one) that way. You don’t have to present something new. If you haven’t already seen it, there’s more advice here: http://magoosh.com/hs/act/2015/the-new-act-essay-coming-september-2015-faqs/   We don’t have a sample essay for this one at the moment…but that is a good suggestion, and we will work to figure out how to present that!  

      • Hi. 
        I was following your blog.
        Just one question on the examples.
        Often the ACT topic includes some examples. Can we use the same examples as support in our essay or should we think of other examples?
        Using the same would cut down the brainstorming effort so much!
         Please advise. 
        Thanks in advance 

        • Magoosh Test Prep Expert Magoosh Test Prep Expert says:

          You can use the examples that appear in the prompt and the perspectives, certainly. But you should also expand on those examples, explaining your own perspective on them. And you should introduce a few additonal supporting examples of your own.

  4. TopStudent says:

    Hey Akash,
    Since you are taking the ACT essay in September 12 then you don’t need to worry about the new ACT analytical essay because the implementation of the new perspective based prompt doesn’t begin until Sep 15

  5. Mary says:

    Thanks so much for this, Kristin! I mentor high school students for post high school planning and spend a lot of time talking about prepping for the ACT. I appreciate your info on the new essay writing requirements!

  6. Erin says:

    Hi Kristin! 
    Thanks so much for sharing your prompt.  Do you mind if we show it to the students that we work with? I would never share it without your permission.  

    • Kristin Fracchia Kristin Fracchia says:

      Hi Erin, sure, we’d love for you to share it :). If you print it out, we ask that you please include the URL and our logo. We can send you a logo by email if you’d like to do that!

  7. simi says:

    Kristin, thank you for posting this prompt! It will help greatly in the absence of a list of sample topics. Really appreciate it.

  8. Kristin says:

    I wrote an essay on this topic. Is there anyway I can get feedback on it. Is there anyway for me to send pictures of what I wrote to get feedback? I am taking the ACT on October 24th and would appreciate the help. Thank you for posting this essay topic!

  9. Nevaeh says:

    I think that all kid’s should have a right to pick what they won’t but leave it up to the parent’s and  the teachers they make the decision of what they think they need to do.

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