What is the ACT writing test (and why should students take it)?

When students sign up to take the ACT® test, they have the opportunity to take the optional ACT writing test—a 40-minute essay test that measures writing skills.

Some universities (or academic programs within those universities) require the ACT writing test for admission, while others do not. This is why ACT made the writing test the only optional section of the overall ACT test. If students are considering taking the writing test on test day, their first priority should be to determine whether their top university choices require the writing exam. Keep in mind there is an extra fee to take the writing test, so finding the requirement before registration will save students money!

What does the test measure?

The writing test contains a single question describing a complex issue and asks students to share their perspective on that issue. Their score will not be affected by their point of view or argument. The test measures:

– Ideas and analysis: Generating productive ideas and engaging critically with multiple perspectives on the given issue.

Organization: Arranging the essay in a way that shows relationships among ideas that guide the reader through the discussion.

Language use and conventions: Using clear language with proper grammar, syntax, wording, mechanics, and audience awareness.

How can students prepare for the writing test?

Read, read, read! Devour books, newspapers, magazines to build a foundation for writing skills.

Practice writing. Stories, poems, plays, letters, journals—it all helps, especially if written with many audiences in mind.

Use a timer. Remember, students will have 40 minutes to complete their writing test. They should practice writing within that time limit. This is good practice not only for the test but for university-level learning and the workforce.

Take a ACT writing practice test by clicking here!

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