ACT Optional Writing Test

act optional writing test

The ACT optional writing test carries more weight with admissions committees than most applicants realize.

The ACT Optional Writing Test is an optional, 30-minute test which measures your writing skills. The test consists of one writing prompt, following by two opposing viewpoints.

Students must respond to the prompt by taking a viewpoint and supporting it. Students can choose to either take one side of the viewpoint, or come up with their own viewpoint.

Students must sign up for the ACT Plus Writing in order to take the writing test. The writing test follows the four multiple choice sections on the test. The ACT optional writing test is completely separate of the four multiple choice tests and will not effect your score on these tests.

Students will receive two scores for the writing test. The first is the combined English/Writing Score on a scale of 1 through 36, and the second is a Writing subscore on a scale of 2 to 12. Included with your scores, comments will also be given to each individual student on their essay.

How Your Essay Will Be Graded

Your essay will be graded on the following points:

  • Expressing judgments by taking a position on the issue in the writing prompt
  • Focusing on the topic for the entire essay
  • Developing a position by using logical reasoning and supporting your ideas
  • Organizing ideas in a logical way
  • Using language clearly and effectively

ACT Optional Writing Tips

  • Pace yourself – You’re given 30 minutes to read the prompt, think of what to write about, organize your thoughts, and write your essay. It is recommended to plan your essay before you start writing. This is recommended since you will most likely not have time to draft, revise, and recopy your essay.
  • Plan – Some writers like to simply dive in and start writing the essay without any prior planning. However, for a timed essay, it’s recommended to “pre write” in order to organize your thoughts, become familiar with the issue, and figuring out how to interestingly introduce and conclude your essay.
  • Review your essay – Definitely take a few minutes before the end of the 30 minute session to re-read your essay and correct any grammatical, usage, punctuation, and spelling mistakes.