The people behind the ACT organization are definitely always striving to improve the test they administer. They make continuous improvements without making radical, all-encompassing changes. Once of the changes coming to the ACT exam is an Enhanced ACT Writing Test. It replaced the old ACT Essay in the fall of 2015.
Enhanced ACT Writing Test Basics
- 1 prompt that provides a statement and three different perspectives on the statement.
- 40 minutes
- 6 different scores
When you receive your test, you'll get a test booklet with a prompt inside which will look quite different from the ACT prompts from the past. You'll read a paragraph that introduces a controversial issue and provides some background for the issue. Then, below that, you'll read three different perspectives on the idea presented. Then, you'll receive your writing task.
Your Essay Task
After you read, it's time to plan and write. You'll get two pages of planning space in the test booklet and thought-provoking questions to help guide you to deeper meaning in your essay like these:
- What insights do the different perspectives offer, and what do they fail to consider?
- Why might they be persuasive to others, or why might they fail to persuade?
- What is your perspective on this issue, and what are its strengths and weaknesses?
- How will you support your perspective in your essay?
The graders are expecting you to do the following three things in your essay:
- Evaluate and analyze the given perspectives
- State and develop your own perspective on the topic
- Explain the relationship between your perspective and those presented
Writing Prompt Samples
Want to practice those writing skills? Here are some prompts to get you going:
Enhanced ACT Writing Prompts
Enhanced ACT Writing Scoring
Considering you'll get six different scores for this essay, it stands to reason that you might want to know what they are.
The first score will be a number between 1 and 36, which is just your standard ACT subject level test score. This will not be averaged into your overall composite ACT score, however, as the Essay exam is considered optional.
The second score will be a new one. This score, again between 1 and 36 will be a combined score with the English and Reading exams. It's called the ELA score. Again, this will not affect your composite score.
The last four scores - domain scores - will cover the content of your writing, giving you a much better idea of your strengths and weaknesses in the writing craft. The domain areas are these:
- Ideas and Analysis: These scores will show you how well you understood the issue presented, created productive responses, thought critically about your writing task, evaluated and analyzed the three different perspectives on the issue, and used rhetorical strategies like logic, emotional appeals and ethical appeals.
- Development and Support: These scores will show how well you explained and substantiated your claims, ideas and arguments. High scores will go to students who discuss and elaborate on ideas, making certain that they are relevant with detailed persuasive examples and careful, thoughtful reasoning. You'll see where you've used strong evidence from both your own experience and knowledge base.
Scores in this category reflect a student's ability to illustrate, explain, and substantiate claims and
- Organization: The scores for this domain will demonstrate your ability to build an argument logically, string your ideas together strategically and write clearly in an organized manner.
- Language Use and Conventions: The scores for this section will show your ability in written English, specifically as it's used for persuasive writing. High scores will show control over grammar and conventions, syntax, word choice, spelling, voice, tone and mechanics.
Improve Your Writing
Whether you're taking the ACT this year or next, you can improve your writing with just a few simple tricks. Want to know more?
- How to Write a Top-Scoring Essay on the Enhanced ACT Writing Test.