ACT Test; How to write an ACT Essay?

American College Test (ACT) is aimed to judge whether a high school student is capable of pursuing a college-level course in the USA. Students worldwide, who want to enroll themselves in courses offered by the colleges in the US, have to appear forthe the ACT. This entrance test is held six times a year in the US by ACT Inc. in the month of February, April, June, September, October, and December. In other countries, this test takes place five times a year.

How to write an ACT Essay?

American College Test (ACT)

The ACT comprises four tests in four different subject areas.

  1. English
  2. Mathematics
  3. Reading
  4. Science

Apart from these four mandatory tests, there is an optional test – Essay Writing. A candidate has to appear for this optional test depending on the course they are applying for. This writing test complements the English and Reading tests.

Total Time Duration

Test Total Time
ACT without essay writing Test 2 hours 55 minutes
ACT with the optional essay writing test 3 hours 35 minutes


Time Division

Subjects Total Time
English 45 minutes
Mathematics 60 minutes
Reading 35 minutes
Science 35 minutes
Optional essay writing test 40 minutes



You are assessed according to a score scale of 1-36.

Tests Score scale
English 1-36
Reading 1-36
Science 1-36
Mathematics 1- 36
Optional essay writing test 1- 36

If you do not take the optional writing test, you receive STEM Score on a scale of 1 – 36

If you take this optional essay writing test, an additional score is added to your score report in the form of ELA (English Language Arts), again on a scale of 1 – 36.

What is a Good Act Score?

In general, an ACT score between 28-36 puts you in the top 10%. ACT Scores between 24-27 puts you in the top 25%. An ACT score between 21-26 puts you in the top 50% of students. ACT Scores between 16 and lower are considered poor and you are generally in the bracket of the lower 25% of students.

Break-up of each Section

Section Number Contents Benchmark for college Readiness Average score achieved in 2015
Mathematics 60 Elementary algebra, Pre-algebra, problem solving, reasoning, coordinate geometry, intermediate algebra 22 20.8
English 75 Mechanics or usage and rhetorical skill 18 20.4
Reading 40 Reading comprehension 22 21.4
Science 40 Analysis, interpretation, problem solving, reasoning and evaluation 23 20.9
Optional Essay Writing Test 1 writing prompt Writing skills —————— 6.9

Time Limit

An overview of the time limit for every section in ACT Test

Understanding the ACT Score

  • A student earns 1 point for right answer and doesn’t lose or gain any point for wrong or omitted answers.
  • The raw ACT score of a section is calculated by counting the number of rightly answered questions. If a student has correctly answered 59 questions right in English section, his raw ACT Score is 59.
  • The raw ACT score of the student is converted into scaled ACT score. The scaled ACT score ranges from minimum 1 to maximum 36 ( the highest possible score). Students receive scaled ACT score for each of the 4 subjects English, Maths, Reading and Science.
  • The composite ACT score is the average of the scaled score in all the 4 subjects.

If a student has scored

25, 26, 27, 24 scaled score in English, Math, Reading and Science, the composite ACT score would be (25+26+27+24)/4


Stem Score and ELA ScoreStem Act Score represents your overall performance in Science and Maths sections while ELA Act Score represents your performance in English, Reading and Writing (optional) section. Beginning in Fall 2017, The ACT Aspire ELA and STEM Benchmarks were updated.

ACT Super Score

Many schools will ask for the best scores in your sections. It is called as Act Superscore. It is the average of the highest scores in your Maths, Science, English and Reading Sections.

Fee Structure

Test Fee
ACT without the writing test $39.50 (in US)$39.50 + $37 (in other countries)
ACT with the optional essay test $56.50 (in US)$56.50 + $37 ( in other countries)


American College Test (ACT) Essay

In the optional writing test, a candidate needs to write an essay on a given topic within 40 minutes. The test comprises a particular writing prompt which focuses on an issue and three distinct aspects of that assigned issue. This essay helps the colleges to understand the student’s mastery of written English. Two trained and highly skilled readers read your essay and give the score.

You need to do three things for writing a commendable ACT essay,

  • Evaluate and assess the mentioned aspects
  • Develop and state own point of view
  • Associate your perspective with the given perspectives.

In this context, you have two options:

  1. You can adopt a given perspective fully or partially
  2. You can generate a completely new perspective of your own.

Radical Change in Format of American College Test Essay( ACT Essay)

The entire format of this writing test has witnessed a drastic change in September 2015. Writing a high standard essay has become more difficult due to this changed format. Here is a comparison between the old and new formats.

Old format New format
1. In the old format, candidates were given a simple writing prompt. Then they were asked to support an aspect and establish their point of view logically. 1. In the new format, a writing prompt is given along with three defined perspectives. Students have to discuss and analyze each of them besides establishing their own perspectives.
2. Less complicated 2. More complicated
3. The students had to put valid arguments in order to make their point justified. 3. In the updated format, all the aspects and the justified reasons behind those perspectives are to be given.

Preparing for ACT Essay

As you will be given only 40 minutes for Act Essay, act smartly. Time management is required for this job. You can divide the task of writing ACT essay into three stages for your own convenience.

Stages Acts
Stage 1 Appropriate Planning
Stage 2 Writing
Stage 3 Revision


Stage 1 : Plan and Make an Outline

You are allowed to spend maximum 8 to 10 minutes for this part. After understanding the issue and the suggested perspectives, make an outline how you will progress and establish your point of view. You have to decide in which direction you will draw the main thread of the essay.

Pro Tips

  • Decide first whether you will support one of the given perspectives or you will add your own perspectives
  • Point out the valid reasons behind the perspective you are going to support
  • It is better to choose a given perspective as the reasons behind that particular argument will be provided. It will be easier for you to support and justify the selected aspect as you will have sufficient information
  • If you are thinking that choosing the most complicated aspect can help you to impress the graders, you are absolutely wrong then. The evaluators will not judge how critically you can think. They just want to see how logically and perfectly you can justify your chosen argument
  • The smartest way is to pick up a perspective which seems correct to you and which you are comfortable with.


Stage 2 : Writing

For this part, you are suggested to spend 25 to 30 minutes. An admired essay should have the below-prescribed format.

Paragraphs Points to be included
First paragraph 1. Introduction 2. Thesis
Second paragraph 1. Transitions 2. Contradictory perspectives
Third paragraph 1. Main discussion
Fourth paragraph Conclusion

1. How to write the first paragraph?


  • Start with introduction
  • Write a brief description on the backdrop of the prescribed topic
  • Try to begin the introductory section with an interesting and attractive sentence to create a positive impact on your examiner.


The thesis generally refers to the statement that reflects the perspective one chooses. So, this is considered to be one of the most crucial parts of the American College Test essay. Consider the following factors while writing the thesis of your essay.

  • Adopt a deductive approach while writing the thesis part. In this part, you have to concentrate on the specific area rather than the larger context
  • At the end of this paragraph, it is suggested to include a brief and logical discussion on the perspective that you are going to support
  • Try to make your thesis simple and clarified. Do not use bombastic words in your thesis statement.

2. How to write the second paragraph?


The first sentence of this paragraph concisely should refer to the ideas that you have already mentioned in the first paragraph. The second sentence of this paragraph should throw light on the contradictory perspectives that you are not supporting.

Discussion on the Opposing Aspects

In this section, discuss the contradictory perspectives in detail. You have to incorporate some statements that should justify your point of views logically. In simple words, you need to oppose the contradictory perspectives rationally.

3. How to write the third paragraph?

This is the part where you need to include the reasons why you are supporting a specific perspective. The ideal way to make this part well-written and appropriate is to associate all the perspectives and analyze them.

Pro Tips

  • You need to discuss all the perspectives.
  • You have to justify clearly why your perspective is correct. The essay must consist of the statements opposing the contradictory aspects.
  • Do no jumble up the perspectives.
  • Mention each perspective and give arguments either in favor or against the particular perspective.

How to write the fourth paragraph – a convincing conclusion?

You have to be very attentive while writing the conclusion part of your essay. The best method to write an impressive conclusion is to include some statements that not only summarize the entire essay but also describe a final outcome. Incorporate a statement that can give one an idea about your invented perspective.

Stage 3 Revision

The only way of composing an error-free essay is to revise the written essay once. At least assign 2 minutes for revision. Read the composed essay very carefully so that you can point out and rectify your mistakes. Remember that even minor errors are not allowed in this test.

Factors That Can Screw Up Your American College Test Essay  

The below-mentioned factors can ruin your efforts. Try to be very careful while writing an American College Test Essay.

Factors Consequences
1. An ambiguous thesis 1. A vague essay
2. Inadequate topic sentences 2. An irrelevant essay
3. Absence of a relevant thread 3. An ill formed essay
4. Inadequate reference to all the perspectives 4. An incomplete essay
5. Inappropriate introduction 5. An unorganized essay
6. Incorrect ending or conclusion 6. An unjustified essay


Distinction between Good and Excellent American College Test Essay

There lies a very sharp line of distinctions between a good and excellent essay. Those differences are mentioned in the given table.

Aspects of Distinction Good Essay Excellent Essay
Analysis of the given perspectives and progression of ideas The arguments comprises several perspectives of the prescribed issue Thesis of the essay should throw light on the logical development of the purpose and thoughts


The argument employs a relevant context


The arguments appropriately comprises several perspectives of the prescribed issue Thesis of the essay should throw light on the relevant logical development of the purpose and thoughtsThe argument employs a insightful relevant context
Progress and justification of the arguments The essay reflects deepen understanding of the issue and perspectives Reasoning and illustrations imply the importance of the argument The essay reflects deepen insightful understanding of the issue and perspectives. Skillful illustrations and reasoning imply the importance of the argument
Structure The essay echoes a good organizational strategy. The essay is based on a controlling purpose The essay echoes a prolific organizational strategy. The essay is based on an appropriate controlling purpose
Syntax Good word choice Simple syntaxSyntactical error-free Perfect word choice Appropriate simple syntaxCompletely syntactical error-free.


An Example of How to Write an American College Test Essay

Let’s look at an example to understand how to write an American College Test essay.

1. Work out the prompt

Most of the services and goods we rely on are basically offered by smart automated machines. Robots build several goods and cars on the assembly lines where human workers used to work once. Some of our telephonic conversations are conducted with the sophisticated technologies rather than people.  Nowadays we can easily buy goods at a store without any human involvement for the payment procedure. Automation is considered to be a significant sign of development, but the question is what can be the result when humans are replaced with machines. It is necessary to examine the meaning and implications of their existence in our daily life.

2. Consider The Perspectives

First perspective:

The most important thing human beings lose due to the replacement of humans by automated machines is our humanity. Even the mundane encounters of us do not require basic respect, tolerance and courtesy from us for other individuals.

Second perspective:

Automated machines perform well for both repetitive, low skill job and high speed exceptionally precise tasks. The fact is that they do perform better than we do. This efficiency can help to build a progressive and prosperous world for humankind.

Third perspective:

These intelligent machines do challenge our conventional thoughts about what we are or what we can be.  The good thing about this is that it can push both machines and humans towards completely new, unexpected possibilities.

3. Coalesce, Collect and Analyze

Analysis and Writing Part

You can choose any one of the given perspectives. In the given essay prompt, three aspects of an issue are given in order to make you understand what you have to mention in your essay while discussing the three perspectives. Remember that it is recommended to elaborate each perspective.  Let’s understand the viewpoints more precisely.

Utilitarian – Smart machines permit us to become more proficient and this is good

Conservative – Smart machines can lead to several consequences

Progressive – Smart machines can lead us to a better-developed world which is not bad at all.

Choose a perspective which offers more scope to argue. In this mentioned passage, it is better to oppose utilitarian and progressive viewpoints so that you can establish your viewpoint perfectly. So, here you are suggested to support conservative perspective.  The best way to oppose a viewpoint is to point out some assumptions and the consequences.  The example is given below for your convenience.

What can be the assumption for this essay prompt?

1st Assumption – Machines generally lead us to progress according to 3rd perspective

2nd Assumption – According to first perspective machines make us efficient

3rd Assumption – The benefits we get from the machines generally outweigh the negative impacts.

What can be the consequences?

Though machines have made our life easy, they have affected some spheres of our life. It could make us more efficient but give rise to numerous consequences. It could harm us rather than helping us. These invented intelligent machines can turn into the machines of destruction.

4. Edit and Proofread

Read your essay multiple times, weeding out the common punctuation errors, improper usage of words. Ensure that the logical flow and consistency is maintained in the essay.

Check for grammar and all the conventions involved in the essay. If you are still not confident, hire one of our American College Writing Essayists.

 Few Secrets to Score High in American College Test Essay

1. Read and understand the essay prompt

Most of the students do not read the essay prompt carefully and here they commit the biggest mistake. The most important step to writing an American College Test essay is to read the writing prompt until you understand the given issue properly. Analyze the prescribed perspectives and find out the focal points of those aspects. If you will not have a clear idea about the given issue how you will build your own perspective.

2. Define the goal or your perspective

Your own invented perspective is the factor that can add an X-factor to the essay. Before starting to write the essay, identify the goal or perspective first so that you can establish the main foundation of your essay.

3. Try to write a lengthy quality essay

Try to write more than one page. In a brief essay, it becomes difficult to explain and justify every idea. One success mantra to score well in ACT is to describe and develop your points and ideas adequately. Do not expand the length of your essay unnecessarily.

4. The introduction and conclusion should be very catchy

The fact is that as ACT evaluators have to read and assess numerous essays, they pay more attention to reading the introduction and conclusion part. If your introduction functions as a generalized overview of the entire area of your essay topic, you can score well easily. The conclusion of a successful essay should include a reference to your introduced perspective. This concluding section has to state your final judgment. Spend sufficient time to write these two parts. If these two sections will be logical and well written, you will succeed in impressing the examiners.

5. Prepare to write a well-formatted essay

As practice makes a man perfect, preparation is very important for this optional writing test. You have to understand and learn the expected format of an ACT essay. Most of the students do not practice writing an essay and here they commit the biggest mistake. If you want to score good in this optional writing section, you have to memorize all the techniques of writing a high-scoring ACT essay.  You have to practice the following things.

How will you begin the essay
How will you associate all the arguments relevantly
How will you write flawless transitions
Practice to elaborate your each idea adequately
Try to write each paragraph perfectly
Avoid silly mistakes.

How to practice?

You must be thinking how you can start practicing. You can download writing prompts from the official website of ACT, Inc. Choose a prompt. Read that prompt and find out the perspectives. Then start writing.

How to practice ACT Writing Essay?

6. Try to adopt a formal tone

You should try to write an authoritative and formal essay. Do not use ‘I’ in your essay.

So that was all about American College Test and the ACT essay. Hope you come out with flying colors in your entrance exam. Best of luck! – The Most Reliable American College Test Essay Guide

Most of the students become nervous when it comes to writing a college admission essay. High school students, who want to sit for American College Test, generally look for guidance to prepare for ACT optional essay writing test. But most of the time, they do not find the proper guide. However, it is now time to give some good news to all the examiners going to appear for the American College Test. offers its exclusive ranges of college admission essay services.

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