Scoring a 12 on the ACT Writing Test is a matter of scoring a six or close to it in four different areas: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization and language use. If you practice before the test and are determined to master these four subject areas, you will score high on the ACT Writing test.
What Is the ACT Writing Test?
The ACT Writing test is an assessment given to students who are planning to apply to college. The ACT, like the SAT is an achievement test designed to gauge the level of mastery of the material that a student has at the end of his or her high school career. The test assesses competence in areas like mathematics, reading comprehension, grammar and vocabulary. The writing test, while not required by every university is increasingly popular with students who want the ability to apply to a wide range of schools.
The writing test requires students to write an essay based on a particular prompt. The prompt includes a statement and then three perspectives that a student must choose from in order to present his or her argument. The test is scored based on a rubric that evaluates the students writing on the basis of a variety of different criteria. The ACT score range is between one and 12, with 12 being a perfect score.
The ACT Writing test is not intended to measure a student's mastery of the topic that is used in the writing prompt. They are not expected to demonstrate any nuanced opinions or facts or other knowledge in the course of the essay. The writing prompt is simply used as a device to see how the student formulates an argument and supports it with clear, concise and organized writing.
How Is the ACT Writing Test Evaluated?
The ACT Writing test is evaluated in sections. The entire essay is read, and the evaluator makes an assessment on the competence of the student's writing in four distinct areas. The first area is "Ideas and Analysis" in which the student must demonstrate that he or she understands the issue and is capable of engaging with multiple points of view on the topic.
The second area of evaluation is "Development and Support." In this section, the evaluator is concerned with the student's ability to develop his or her ideas, explain them and show support for them. There should be a clear display of logical reasoning present that communicates the argument's significance. The third evaluation is based on the degree of organization in thinking and communication that the essay displays.
Finally, the evaluator examines the student's facility with language use. This is a critical piece of the evaluation process. Language use does not simply mean the employment of sophisticated vocabulary words. In the case of the ACT writing test, language evaluation means demonstrating an understanding of word choice, sentence structure and clarity of paragraph design.
How Is the ACT Writing Test Scored?
The ACT Writing test is then scored by the evaluator. The numerical evaluations the evaluator has given the student in the above four sections are averaged. The resulting number is the student's overall score. An ACT writing score of 12 is the highest possible one and demonstrates proficiency and a high level of skill. A one is the lowest possible score, demonstrating that the student has a clear lack of comprehension and command of the material.
The ACT Writing Test is not scored based on your knowledge of the concepts presented in the writing prompt. It is scored based on your ability to use language and ideas to make a coherent argument that proves your point in an organized way. These are the skills you should be considering when you begin to prepare for the ACT writing test.
How Do You Prepare for the ACT Writing Test?
Fortunately, since the ACT writing test follows the same format every time, it is easy for you to prepare. The first thing to do is to find samples of the test which are readily available. Read them over and over again. Take note of how the arguments are made. Take note of the way that supporting evidence is provided. Pay special attention to the way the test is organized, and the way the writer organized his or her response.
Next, you need to practice. Cover up or remove from view the answers that were provided in the sample test. Now, reading the prompts, go back and pick a perspective from the three that are provided. Once you have selected a perspective, you can begin to outline your essay.
It may seem like a waste of time to outline or plan the essay when you have a limited amount of time for writing it to begin with. However, planning is critical. By examining the prompts and perspectives and planning what you would say in favor of and against each one, you can choose which one you can best support, and begin writing your outline from there.
How Do You Practice Writing the ACT Writing Test Essay?
Once you've arrived at the perspective that you feel you can best support, you can begin writing your introduction. Your introduction should introduce the topic of the prompt, and state your perspective chosen from the three provided. Once you have made your perspective clear, you can write a transition sentence in the next paragraph that lets the reader know you are moving from the introduction to the body.
In the body paragraphs (there should be at least two), you can give examples and evidence to support why your perspective is the best. Another strategy is why the other perspectives presented ultimately fall short in their assessment of the issue. Be sure to provide clear evidence that supports your position. You should also give an example of evidence that supports an opposing perspective, and tell the reader why you disagree with it.
Finally, you should write your conclusion. The conclusion is essentially a chance for you to reiterate your position and your perspective. You should also use this paragraph to point out a consequence of the argument and the issue. If you can use your perspective to point to the future or make an argument about the future based on one of these perspectives, that is well worth doing.
What Are Some ACT Writing Test Tips?
Often when students discover that it's time to begin the writing test, they panic. They become obsessed with checking the time, worry that they do not have enough time to write in and fail to plan their essay. Make sure you do not fall into this trap. Set aside between eight and 10 minutes at the very beginning of the test to plan your essay. Once you have a plan and a strategy in mind, the writing of the essay will go much faster because you won't have to think about what to do next.
Stick with the perspective you settle on. Even if halfway through you think another perspective is actually better or closer to your own values, stick with the one you have chosen and see it through. Scorers are not interested in your personal opinions, they are only interested in seeing that you can write a clear, thoughtfully written argument.
Do not forget to use concrete examples to support your point. General sentences that sound vague or uncertain will cost you. Also, do not be afraid to show off your writing skills or vocabulary if you are confident that you are using words or terms correctly.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites. She has written for Pearson Education, The University of Miami, The New York City Teaching Fellows, New Visions for Public Schools, and a number of independent secondary schools. She lives in Los Angeles.