ACT Writing


The ACT Enhanced Writing Test (new in September 2015!) measures your ability to evaluate different perspectives on a debatable topic and write an essay (within a time limit!) presenting  your own argument on the issue and supporting it with specific details and examples. It is an optional component of the ACT, although there are many colleges and universities that require or recommend it for admissions.


What to Know:

  • The Writing Test is the last section of the ACT (meaning you have to suck it up and keep going after your non-Writing Test friends scamper off to freedom).
  • You have a 40-minute time limit to plan and write your essay.
  • There will be one essay prompt that will present you with a debatable topic and three different perspectives on it. It will ask you to evaluate the three different perspectives, present your own perspective (which may agree in part or in full with any of the provided viewpoints), and explain the relationship between your viewpoint and the provided ones.
  • The essay is scored by two graders, each of whom will assign you a score of 1 to 6 on four different writing “domains.” Your total points added up between these two graders are converted to a scaled score of 1 to 36, which is the final score you will see on your score report.
  • The ACT Writing Test is changing in September 2015. You can see a sample prompt here of the new essay question type.


What to Study:

  • Practice planning and writing essays on practice ACT essay prompts. Although writing full essays is the best practice, ten-minute outlining sessions in which you plan out your essay (like you will do on the test) can go a long way in helping you learn how to quickly generate and organize your ideas.
  • Share your writing with the strong writers you know and get feedback from them. Have them score your practice essays using the ACT rubric.
  • Review the sample essays on so that you can get a sense of what kinds of essays get which scores. This can be incredibly helpful!
  • Learn about current events and form your own opinions on them. Engage in lively debates with your friends and family so that you can practice supporting your opinions and anticipating opposing arguments!


Where to Start:

Right here! First, read Your Magical Guide to Scoring a Perfect 12 on the ACT Essay, which will guide you through all the basics (if you’re a beginner) and how to improve your score (if you’ve already taken the test). Then, on this page, you will find lots more writing tips and strategies that will help you show the ACT Writing test who’s boss. Happy Studying!


By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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