How to Write an ACT Essay: Introduction

Writing essays has never been a simple task. It took lots of skills, time and energy, and required full commitment. While writing common essays, like a high school personal essay or a book review, is quite simple, there are many tasks that literally make students cover in sweat. This especially concerns essays for standardized tests, like the ACT. That is exactly what we are going to discuss today.

How to Write an ACT Essay

Apart from giving you general information on the structure and content of an ACT essay, you will also find lots of tricks and tips! By using our model and training writing skills you will surely reach outstanding results.

ACT Writing: a Detailed Guide

After years of experience writing ACT essays, we have come to the best and the simplest guide on writing an essay that would meet all of the goals and requirements.

Our plan consists of such three sections as planning, writing itself and revising. Go on reading not to miss a single detail!

Planning

Estimated duration: 10-12 minutes

Planning is one of the basic and most effective tools for writing ACT essays. However, many students still think it is not necessary and prefer skipping this stage. But having many years of experience behind our backs, we are sure that planning is crucial and can greatly improve the result!

Planning is essential to organize your ideas and thoughts before writing them down. It acts as an outline and structure of the future ACT essay.

Stage 1: Read the given question and perspectives and then choose your position

A big part of writing an ACT essay will include building connections between the provided perspective and your own perspective. This always required a solid understanding of every prompt.

The majority of prompts follow a common format, where a statement is backed with a certain opinion. This allows coming up with a personal perspective quite easily.

Some students still want to add their own perspective. Even though it is not forbidden directly, we still don’t recommend it. Creating the fourth perspective will take lots of your time, which you could devote to other important tasks.

That is why it is better to use limited time to conduct a deep analysis of your own perspective and proposed ones.

There is also a chance that your perspective will be a mix of three proposed perspectives. In such a case, you are free to present it. But make sure that you conduct a comparison with all of the three perspectives.

The focus should always be placed on the comparison because it allows you to meet the essay’s requirements. That is why you should choose a perspective that you can support.

Stage 2: Brainstorming evidence and supporting every perspective

Considering that throughout your ACT essay you will need to emphasize connections between given perspectives and your own one, you should always come up with reliable evidence.

This means that you should stick to a perspective that gives as much confirmation, as possible. This should be done during the planning stage because this will help you to choose the most suitable perspective.

When providing evidence, be clear and stick to short phrases (this is one of ACT essay benefits: it is not necessary to write whole phrases and sentences).

Start with reading the prompt’s opening paragraph. With its help, you will come up with enough examples for your own essay. This will give your thoughts a direction and will help to generate ideas for the future paragraphs.

To support your points of view, you can also write about personal experience and examples from your life. Moreover, the story you provide may both be real or made up. Just make sure that it is as personal as possible.

Another source of information is statistics. Numbers are crucial if you want to prove your point of view. You can even invent research that contains all of the necessary details related to the subject. This research can be real or made up: just make sure that it is believable.

You can use numbers and play around with them as you want but make sure that they are supporting the perspective you have chosen for your essay.

After you have selected sources for the ACT essay, you need to know how to work with them. These can be historical books or newspapers with the latest news. Just make sure you get reliable data that would help to make your argument stronger.

But don’t waste too much time on this stage, because your grade won’t depend on the fact that your numbers or sources were made up.

Stage 3: Brainstorming counterarguments and analyses of other points of view

When writing an ACT essay you have a big advantage: all the answers are universal, so there are no standards or rules on how a perspective should be approached.

For example, you are describing a negative impact of nuclear weapons on humanity. It is possible to devote a separate paragraph to discussing a few positive features but make sure that later in the text you must prove that those features are wrong.

You can also provide arguments against two other perspectives, sticking to the third one.

Stage 4: Organize your ACT essay

By this stage, you already have the main points for an essay. The only thing left is to organize them in a clear manner.

Make sure that your introduction includes a thesis statement. It is a sentence, which contains your main idea about the subject and the things that you are willing to prove through the essay.

A brief conclusion should be included in the essay and don’t forget about transition words. They help to make the flow of your ACT essay light and simple. However, planning transition words are not necessary and you can add them while you are writing the essay.

Voila! You are now ready to start the writing stage!

Writing

Estimated duration: 20-25 minutes

Here are the stages that the writing process should include:

Stage 1: Introduction and thesis

Start writing your ACT essay with an introductory paragraph. It should be catchy and interesting. Make sure that your thesis statement is highlighted and clear. If you have difficulties with writing a great introduction, you can leave blank space and return to this stage later.

The thesis statement should be presented in the best way and to show your position on the topic.

Stage 2: Body paragraphs

When working on body paragraphs, make sure that they are related to the first paragraph. This means that all of the arguments you present must refer to the thesis and support the main claim.

Once you present the topic sentence at the beginning of the first body paragraph, you can go on with providing argumentation. It is also possible to start with an antithesis to your main perspective and then to support the perspective with credible information.

If you provide counterarguments, make sure that they are also related to your thesis statement.

The second body paragraph must give more detailed information about the relations between the two perspectives. You are free to include your opinion on the second perspective in case you are comparing it with one of the prompt’s perspectives.

Develop your ideas and arguments within three to five sentences. Make sure you include a parallel to your own perspective while working on the perspective above.

The third body paragraph should contain your main perspective and connection with counterarguments from the first paragraph. Come up with a final idea that backs your own perspective.

Stage 3: Conclusion

By this point you will only have around 5 minutes left, so be brief and stick to the point. Write a few sentences that simply paraphrase your thesis. This will be a natural way to summarize your ACT essay.

Revising

Estimated duration: 2-3 minutes

Most likely you will only have a few minutes left to reread your essay and to correct possible mistakes. That is why use this limited time to revise the main points that need improvement. Replace words or switch phrases that sound out of place.

Congratulations! Now you know how to write an ACT essay and you will surely get a high score!

Final Thoughts

Try to develop a useful habit of planning essays well in advance. This will take only 10-15 minutes of your time but will help to avoid lots of problems. You should also keep in mind how much time is left: try to practice writing at home, shortening the time frame.

In case you are not sure whether you have got our tips correctly or have specific questions, you can always contact our specialists. We are always here to help and you can rely on our experts not depending on whether you can’t understand peculiarities of the task or need to write a complicated essay from scratch!

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