Perhaps no other part of the ACT is more feared than the essay section. After all, it does require a lot more than simply choosing an answer from a multiple-choice question. Plus, writing is subjective as one ACT scorer might give someone a 6 for an essay and another person that is doing the scoring could hand out a 10 instead for the same essay. Regardless, there are things you can do to ensure yourself a solid score on the essay. In fact, if you follow these tips, you may be able to land a perfect 12 if you are fortunate enough. However, keep in mind that only about one percent of people that take the ACT are able to earn a perfect score of 12.
Make Sure Your Organizational Skills Are on Point
If you have spent any time paying attention in school, you know that essays basically have three parts. You have the introductory paragraph, the body, and then the concluding paragraph. Start organizing your essay under these three parts. I like to keep the body of the essay at about three paragraphs in general. In total, you need five good paragraphs with your ideas and thoughts well stated.
Make Good Use of Your Time
You have 40 minutes to complete the essay. Rather than just reading the writing prompt and then immediately start attacking your first paragraph, take a few minutes to consider what you are going to write. In fact, create a brief outline where you have a sentence describing what each paragraph will be about. This will keep you on track when writing the essay and won’t have you drifting off in your writing.
I like to tell my students that they are set to take the ACT essay that it is not about how many words you can write in 40 minutes. Some of the best essays I have ever read were on the shorter side. Just because you can write four pages in 40 minutes does not mean you will earn a good score. It is quality, not quantity.
Consider the Four Categories You Are Being Scored in
Each person that is scoring an ACT essay has to do so according to a rubric. In this rubric, there are four categories that your writing is being judged in. First, you have Ideas and Analysis. This will be about how you engage the reader with your thoughts and perspective. Second is Development and Support. You must back up your thoughts and ideas with reasoning. The third is Organization. You can’t just throw things at the page and expect the good to stick and the bad to slide right off the page and disappear. Fourth, the person scoring the essay will be looking closely at Language Use. This includes vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.
Practice Ahead of Time
There are practice writing prompts for the ACT essay section. You might as well put them to use. Set a timer for 40 minutes and complete one. Since it is tough to grade your own writing, bring it to someone who can judge it without bias. They may have some advice specific to your writing style that could help you out immensely.
In fact, iAchieve could be of assistance with this tip. We have ACT tutors that specialize in the essay section. By working with them, you can dramatically improve your chance of earning a high score. They can help score your practice essay once finished and discuss your strengths and weaknesses.
Don’t Play It Safe
The writing prompt will generally make you pick a side and defend it. Instead of trying to walk the line without making a commitment, be strong with your choice and support it accordingly through your writing. Playing it safe is great when you are trying to make two friends happy that are having a disagreement, but in the world of essay writing, you have to commit.
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