Frequently Asked Questions

Can I take the writing test by itself, without taking the multiple-choice tests?

No. The writing test cannot be taken without first taking all four multiple-choice tests in the same session.

Where can I take the writing test? 

The ACT writing test is offered at every national and international test center.

Will I write my essay on paper or on a computer?

The ACT writing test is a paper-and-pencil test. You will write your essay in pencil (no mechanical pencils or ink pens) on the lined pages of an answer folder that will be provided to you. The only exception is for approved students with diagnosed disabilities who cannot hand write the essay. (See Services for Students with Disabilities.)

Is the ACT writing test coachable?

The writing test is designed as a curriculum-based test, just like the multiple-choice tests. This means that it measures the knowledge and skills taught in high school that are important to be ready for college-level work. In this sense, all the ACT tests are coachable, because the best preparation for any student taking the ACT is rigorous college preparatory courses in high school. Students do not need to take commercial test preparation courses to do well on the ACT. Taking the right courses in high school, and working hard and doing well in these courses, is enough.

Can the ACT writing test be scored with accuracy?

ACT has many years of experience developing, administering, and scoring writing tests. Readers are carefully screened and trained so they are very familiar with the type of writing that merits each particular score. Readers must pass a test after training to be certified to score the writing test.

ACT has an established record of high accuracy in scoring performance assessments.

Is 40 minutes long enough to test writing skills?

The ACT writing test is designed so that the prompts can be properly answered in the time allowed. The test is a different type of assignment than a college paper, but it measures skills students use when writing a college paper—such as the ability to focus on a topic, to develop ideas, and to write logically and coherently, with proper sentence structure and sound reasoning.

How can ACT writing test results be used?

Writing test results provide colleges with additional information that can be used to make college admissions and course placement decisions. The writing and reading test scores complement scores from the ACT English test. The high school and colleges to which a student has ACT report writing scores can also view an image of the essay.