Tips for the ACT Writing Test

  • Carefully read the instructions on the cover of the test booklet.
  • Do some planning before writing the essay; you will be instructed to do your prewriting in your writing test booklet. You can refer to these notes as you write the essay on the lined pages in your answer folder.
  • Do not skip lines and do not write in the margins. Write your essay legibly, in English, with a No. 2 pencil. Do not use ink, a mechanical pencil, or correction fluid.
    • Carefully read and consider all prompt material. Be sure you understand the issue, its perspectives, and your essay task.
    • The prewriting questions included with the prompt will help you analyze the perspectives and develop your own.
    • Use these questions to think critically about the prompt and generate effective ideas in response. Ask yourself how your ideas and analysis can best be supported and organized in a written argument.
    • Use the prewriting space in your test booklet to structure or outline your response.
  • Establish the focus of your essay by making clear your argument and its main ideas. Explain and illustrate your ideas with sound reasoning and meaningful examples.
  • Discuss the significance of your ideas: what are the implications of what you have to say, and why is your argument important to consider?
  • As you write, ask yourself if your logic is clear, you have supported your claims, and you have chosen precise words to communicate your ideas.
  • Take a few minutes, before time is called, to read over your essay:
    • Correct any mistakes in grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.
    • If you find any words that are hard to read, recopy them.
    • Make any corrections and revisions neatly, between the lines. Do not write in the margins.

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