Everything You Need to Know About ACT Writing Section


Mrunmayai Bobade
Updated on Feb 28, 2022 11:38 AM IST

A final section of the ACT exam is the ACT Writing Test, an optional fifth section. In this prep guide, you will learn tips and strategies for acing the ACT Writing Test, as well as an explanation of how the scores are calculated.

Everything You Need to Know About ACT Writing Section

Perseverance is the key to passing the ACT. The test subjects are divided into various subject areas, asking students to answer 215 MCQ’s apiece. This is the reason why many students find this style of testing overwhelmingly. ACT's essay writing portion is an additional section to its four other sections including Mathematics, English, Science, and Reading. 

In the ACT Essay Section, students are required to write a unique (original) piece of writing that bears a resemblance to a task. To evaluate the writing skills and analytical abilities of test-takers, this section is included as part of the evaluation process. Antithetical to the rest four sections of the ACT exam, however, the ACT Essay writing is an optional component, so you may omit it if you wish (though certain colleges and universities may still demand it).

ACT Writing: What is it?

The ACT Writing section contains the following facts that you must take into account:

  1. It's a 40-minute exam (or test) to be concluded with pen and paper.

  2. Three different perspectives will be offered to you for one essay prompt on a controversial topic.

  3. What you have to do here is:

  • Describe how your viewpoint differs from the one apportioned.

  • Put forward your own frame of reference or perspective (which may be in agreement or disagreement with the postulated viewpoints).

  • Compare and contrast the three viewpoints.

Our Study Abroad Consultants' have trained a great number of students on a one-to-one basis to score excellent results, particularly in the ACT Writing Section. We are glad to see so many of our students are attending the colleges to which they aspire. Know More.

Confused About Whether to Attempt the ACT Writing Exam or not? 

Why is ACT Writing Test Optional?

To cater to the diverse needs of postsecondary institutions, the ACT writing test is kept as an option. 

  • Students are advised to check the requirements of the colleges and universities they are considering before deciding whether to take the writing test. 

  • Whether the ACT writing test scores should be used for admissions and/or course placement is left up to the individual postsecondary institutions. 

Should I Take the ACT Writing Test?

No, not necessarily! There is no requirement to do so. It is an optional extra that does cost a little bit more, though. In reality, it is a separate issue whether test takers are required to write essays and whether colleges do too. ACTs without writing are accepted by many colleges and universities; however, most first-rated cut-throat institutions require this piece of writing as a mandate. It's best to check with each college you're thinking of applying to before registering for the ACT since the list of mandatory ACT writing requirements changes frequently.

Although this is true, there are students who take the test before they know where they will be applying to college. Does it then make more sense to strive for the ACT with or without attempting? To tell the truth, it makes more sense to write if you're really undecided. Because this will save you the hassle of retaking the test once you decide to apply to a college that may require it in the upcoming months! Keeping your options open does require a little add-on preparation but in the end, it's all worth it.

Rubric for the ACT Writing Section

An ACT essay is scored by two graders, each assigning a score of between 1 to 6 for a total score between 2 to 12.

Here is an example of an ACT essay prompt. How well you perform these tasks given below will determine your ACT writing score:


How it Works?

Advice on Scoring Big

Support & Development

Are there any examples you can provide to illustrate your ideas? 

The grader is looking for evidence to support your claim. Killer counterexamples will wreak havoc on the opposing argument. 

Analysis & Ideas

Can you evaluate other people's arguments and build an argument of your own? 

Your grade will not be based on whether the answer you choose is correct. Instead, your grading will be justified on how sophisticated and optimistic your answers are. 

Conventions & Language Use

Do you have a clear writing style? 

Even a few stray errors will be forgiven by your graders, but if your grammatical and spelling mistakes prevent you from expressing yourself clearly, those mistakes could cost you your grade.


Would you be able to arrange your points in a logical manner?

A well-organized essay can make a difference. It must include a concise introduction, main body paragraphs, and a compelling conclusion.

Also Read: 

Everything You Need to Know About ACT Mathematics

Everything You Need to Know About ACT Science

Everything You Need to Know About ACT English

Everything You Need to Know About ACT Reading

ACT Writing Score: What Should You Aim For?

Writing scores on the ACT range from 2 (lowest) to all the way up to 12 (highest). A score between 6 and 7 is considered an average score. ACT, Inc. has released the latest data regarding national ACT writing scores percentiles.

ACT Writing Score

ACT Writing Percentile























Why Is the ACT Writing Section Altering/Changing?

High school graduates are often criticized by colleges for failing to write academically or complexly enough. ACT, which aims to be a benchmark for college entrance as well as a graduation requirement, is always seeking to be in parallel with the modern education systems, and its Enhanced ACT Writing Test is one of those major elements conferring on that.

Reengineering the ACT Writing test reflects broader changes in education. It was not until recently that each state decided what to teach its students, and a large percentage of students graduated from high school totally unplanned and unprepared for college.

Henceforth, the Common Core standards in the disciplines of Mathematics and English were released in the year 2010 by the National Governors Association. This initiative has been implemented in 44 of the 50 U.S. states and other Districts of Columbia. These writing standards apply to grades 11-12.

Need FREE Guidance on Preparation for the ACT Writing Section? 

How to Prepare for the ACT Essay Writing?

The ACT Writing section often yields higher scores for students who make preparations ahead of time. Therefore, as previously mentioned, the first step is to understand what the prompt is asking for. After reading the passage, try to focus your attention and summarize your opinion in a few short sentences. 

As you read through the question prompt, align your perspective with the different points of view you're presented with. The question prompt should be read and understood for approximately eight minutes (as per general recommendations). Now, it is best if you include some additional details to substantiate your opinions, such as statistics, a few facts, or any other details to provide a backbone to your viewpoints.

A structured and focused response is needed when formulating your opinion. Further, your viewpoint should represent a profound variation of one of the three perspectives presented above. 

The next step is to draft a brief summary of your essay so that all the parts are aligned properly. Remember that, an ACT evaluator will typically be interested in essays that follow a five-paragraph structure (1 for the introduction, 3 for the main body and 1 for the conclusion). A clear statement of your perspective and the central thesis of your essay must be included in the introduction itself.

For paragraph structuring, it's best to stipulate new perspectives in separate paragraphs and to derive your opinions in one paragraph. Include a conclusion in a separate paragraph after you have done explaining all the perspectives and labelling your opinion. Briefly summarize each of the previously outlined paragraphs in this conclusion. 

ACT Writing: Can It Hurt Your Overall Scores?

Absolutely not! ACT composite scores should not be used unless it's on a scale from 1-36. Your average score from each of the 4 MCQ’s i.e., Mathematics, Science, Reading, and English are given here. There is no ACT writing score included. So, does the ACT writing score affect the composite score? Well, the answer is a big NO.

With all that being said, your ELA subscore will be affected by your ACT writing essay score. You'll be glad to know that many colleges and universities are more concerned with your sectional and composite scores.

What Happens if I Mess up on the Writing Section?

If you wish to cancel the section after it has been taken, you cannot do so. You will receive a score report once you complete the essay. Is there a way you can retake ACT Writing if you feel you weren't at your best or you got less of a score than you'd hoped? Most certainly! In other words, retaking ACT Writing will require you to take the entire test again.

Also Read: Why Many US Universities Are No Longer Accepting Considering ACT/SAT Scores as an Admission Requirement

Which ACT Writing Errors Should You Avoid?

Uh-huh! An “optional” ACT writing essay. You will be investing 40 minutes trying to pen down a cohesive essay when your classmate has told you this: "Great essays don't happen overnight." It's difficult, you're right, but it doesn't have to be your best essay. Just the essay should be free of some mistakes mentioned below.

Misusing complex words and grammar.

It is certainly recommended to write complicated sentences, but you should use words that you are comfortable spelling and using. Grammar and punctuation are equally important: Do you know how to use a colon and a semicolon? That's only one example. You might get bonus points for using them correctly; try using them in your everyday writing style.

Repeating Yourself Again and Again

Boring writing is best exemplified by a five-word sentence. Obviously, there will be someone who can prove me wrong, but it's good to vary length and structure in your writing for it to flow and be interesting. Do something complex. State your position and move on.

Five different ways of saying the same thing won't help the graders. Making your point and moving on to the next is the only thing you have to do. Try not to fill your essay with unnecessary information just to make it look longer.

Making no Counter-Argument

One-sided conversations are rarely the norm. It is, therefore, necessary to acknowledge the opposing viewpoint. You can use this to explore a new aspect of your essay. Provide an alternative viewpoint to help strengthen your argument.

No Proof-Reading

We are all flawed in some way. Often, even the most experienced writers make silly mistakes. ACT essays must be proofread carefully for this reason. Make sure to, too and two are spelled correctly. Make sure you read your paper over for errors like that at the end.

Also Read: List of Entrance Exams to Study Abroad

Besides these four major mistakes, there are likely to be many others that you can make when preparing for the ACT Writing Section. Do not panic! Our team is willing to assist you. Feel free to drop us a line at abroad@collegedekho.com for more information. Our Study Abroad Consultants' have prepared a great number of students to take the ACT Writing Section with excellent results. As many of our students as possible are pursuing their dreams by attending the colleges to which they hunted for. Know More.

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