ACT Writing Enhancements for Fall 2015

September 8, 2015 

ACT_WritingThe optional essay section (Writing test) of the ACT is changing beginning with the September 12, 2015 test date. The revised ACT essay format was designed to provide more insights to help students become college and career ready.

Test takers will now be assessed in four critical writing competencies:

  • ideas and analysis
  • development and support
  • organization
  • language use


Each prompt for the revised ACT Writing test will present a paragraph that introduces and gives background on an issue, as well as three differing perspectives on that issue. Included in the test booklet are two pages of planning space which list a series of critical questions that will help to guide the student as they develop and express their ideas. The student’s task has three components: (1) to “evaluate and analyze” the given perspectives, (2) to “state and develop” their own perspective, and (3) to “explain the relationship” between their perspective and those given. Students are free to agree with a stated perspective from the prompt partially or completely, or they may come up with their own position. According to the ACT website “the new essay is an exercise in both persuasion and analysis, while the old essay was an exercise in just persuasion.” The student has 40 minutes to complete this section, rather than the 30 minutes allowed previously. 

Click here to see a sample ACT Essay Prompt.

The scoring for the Writing test is changing too—it will now consist of subscores for the four critical writing competencies mentioned above. Evaluating these competencies separately will allow the ACT to more effectively identify and reward the strengths in the student’s writing, as well as noting specific deficits. However, the actual Writing test score will still be in the familiar 1-36 scale. Additionally, the average scores from the English, Reading, and Writing tests will now be combined, and this will be called the ELA score. The ELA score will also be based on the 1-36 scale. As in the past, the ACT Writing score does not affect the 1–36 ACT composite score.


Remember, A+ offers free proctored ACT practice tests that include the Writing test. We can help you work on your essay-writing skills and get you ready for your official test day!



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