ACT Writing Tips and Grading Rubric

Do you have college bound patrons who are planning to take the upcoming ACT exam? Here are some tips for the writing portion of the test:

ACT graders spend less than 5 minutes reading and grading the essay. The most effective way for students to get a good score on this section is to make the graders’ jobs easy: state a clear position, organize the essay logically and use strong examples.

ACT Writing Rubric

Each essay is ready by two graders, each of whom will assign it a series of four subscores, from 1 to 6. The scores are then combined and then scaled into a score of 1–36.

Subscore What the graders look for
Ideas and Analysis A well-constructed argument, and/or accurate assessment of others’ arguments
Development and Support Use of concrete examples to support the argument
Organization Ideas presented in a logical order
Language Use and Conventions Clear writing, correct grammar and syntax

More ACT Writing Tips

  1. Go Long

Students should aim to write at least four paragraphs spanning two to three pages.

  1. Mix it up

Students should use varied sentence structure, following long sentences with lots of modifiers and dependent clauses with short, more direct sentences.

  1. Choose words with care

While students should use the essay to show off their vocab skills, they should avoid being overly flowery or taking any major risks with language. Using a big word incorrectly makes a worse impression on the graders than using a smaller word correctly.


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