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ACT Writing Test-Overview, Syllabus, and More

Updated on 15 April, 2024

Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

The ACT writing test stands for American College Testing. It is an optional exam that can offer a competitive edge to students seeking admission to selective top US colleges. Mostly, this section is relevant for securing a seat in US and Canadian undergraduate programs.

Although the ACT writing section is not mandatory, it can prove crucial for portraying a student’s writing and linguistic skills. This way, one can improve the chances of exhibiting additional traits in front of the admission committee.

If one chooses to appear for the writing essay section, there is an additional 40 minutes to the ACT exam.

So, students aspiring to opt for this test should understand the syllabus and scoring pattern. This article contains all the necessary details crisply.  

ACT Writing Section: Syllabus

Here is the structure of the ACT writing test to become highly conversant with the optional segment:

  • 40-minute essay to evaluate writing abilities
  • Multiple passages to analyze
  • Examinees need to scan and provide detailed perspectives on the content
  • The section is mandatory for only a few educational institutes

Overall, this ACT writing section consists of an essay one must read thoroughly. Students must scan the required perspectives and write the essay with a pencil. However, one has to complete the MCQ sections before taking the writing test.

One must read several available samples to achieve a high ACT writing score. Regular practice can boost the chances of performing well in this section.

ACT Writing Test: Scoring

It is vital to realize that the ACT score will apply only to a selected university. Hence, before appearing for this section, one must know if the target institute considers the writing test marks.

The ACT writing score has segregation into five facets:

  • Subject-level writing score
  • Domain score I (Ideas and analysis)
  • Domain score II (Development and support)
  • Domain score III (Organization)
  • Domain score IV (Language use and conventions)

Notably, the overall range of scoring lies between 2 to 12. It is also crucial to understand that the score of this writing test does not impact the composite ACT grade.

ACT Samples for Quick Preparation

After familiarizing myself with the structure and scoring, practicing thoroughly for the ACT writing test is crucial. This section contains two samples, along with the ideal solution for each.

ACT Sample 1

Topic: Intelligent Machines

In today’s age, goods and services undergo handling and manufacturing by automated machines. Hence, the dependency on humans is gradually reducing. For instance, automobile assembly lines had several human workers. These days, the advent of robotics has led to replacing such employees. Also, our telephonic conversations depend on sophisticated technologies. Today, we can even buy goods and groceries without needing a human cashier. Generally perceived as a sign of advancement, automation has, in fact, played a pivotal role in replacing the human workforce. So, it is necessary to analyze the impact of intelligent machines on our lives rather than accelerating their inclusion without much thought.

One should read this ACT writing test sample twice to understand its meaning. Next, consider these perspectives:

1. The replacement of the human workforce is part of our modern humanity. In today’s age, our daily tasks do not require respect, tolerance, or courtesy for other people

2. Intelligent machines are good at monotonous and precise jobs. They offer high accuracy and precision than humans. This way, the entire global economy can progress at a faster rate

3. Machines can push both humans and technology toward new possibilities. They challenge our traditional ideas about mankind’s existence

The next stage is to analyze each of these three perspectives. Students can agree to any one or multiple views and write a coherent essay. In this ACT writing test, it is crucial to relate one’s perspective to the existing three ideas.

ACT Sample 2

Topic: Education and the Workplace

In the modern era, many institutes have shifted focus from their humanities department. Today, we can witness high investment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses compared to ELA (English, Language, Arts). Experts belonging to the local and national government boards feel that the shift towards STEM is crucial for the American economy and workplace. However, the debate comparing ELA and STEM is highly active. It is worth evaluating the effect of educating US students in such courses on the workplace.

Here are the three perspectives of this ACT writing test sample:

1. ELA courses should have the number one priority over STEM. Educating in the former programs help individuals lead more meaningful lives. STEM courses limit the creativity of students and contribute toward emphasizing material needs and tangible gains

2. In today’s age, decision-makers should eliminate ELA programs. There should only be essential skill development of reading and writing necessary for studying science and mathematics. Literature should only be limited to individuals as a leisure activity or hobby.

3. There should always be a balance of STEM and ELA courses. Both of these elements are necessary for a student’s well-rounded development. Exposure to both these modules can help students decide on their minor or major program confidently

Examinees need to write a unified essay as the answer to this ACT writing section. It is essential to support one’s opinions and logically relate to the three perspectives.

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Tips For ACT Writing

To get a high ACT writing score, it is vital to plan ahead. Here are some of the handy strategies to follow.

Practice and Read Frequently

It is crucial to read a diverse array of topics from different sources. In this article, one can practice two distinct prompts. Similarly, exploring relevant sources containing passages on various social issues is vital.

Write an Organized Essay

One should concentrate on conveying ideas lucidly and coherently. For this purpose, focus on developing the essay and relate it to the three perspectives. This ACT writing test can also help in improving the answering speed.

Analyze the Perspectives

Each passage will contain three perspectives. So, it is crucial to gauge these ideas carefully. Figure out the most suitable perspective and try to write an essay revolving around its message.

Practice Structuring the Essay

To score high on the ACT writing test, students should divide the essay into the following stages:

  • Introduction
  • Body paragraph I
  • Body paragraph II
  • Conclusion

It becomes easy to cover all the ideas in such a format.


To eliminate any errors or redundant sentences, proofreading proves vital. Students can erase any unwanted lines after carefully reading their essays.

Read MoreACT English Test

Disclaimer - ACT® is a registered trademark belonging to ACT, Inc. ACT, Inc. is not involved with or affiliated with upgradabroad.com, nor does ACT, Inc. endorse or sponsor any of the products or services offered by upgradabroad.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the fees for the ACT writing test?

The overall fee to appear for the ACT with a writing test is USD 88. However, students who do not wish to appear for the writing test only need to pay USD 63.

Which colleges demand ACT writing scores?

Colleges like the Soka University of America, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Martin Luther College, etc., demand an ACT writing test score.

What is the main aim of the writing test?

The writing section aims to evaluate a student’s language skills. In addition, it gauges the understanding of composition and the ability to write specific opinions.

Which ACT writing score is considered remarkable?

Scores ranging from 10 to 12 portray excellent writing skills. However, in most cases, a writing score of 8 can prove sufficient to acquire a seat in universities with selective admission criteria.

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Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Mrinal Mandal is a study abroad expert with a passion for guiding students towards their international education goals. He holds a degree in mechanical engineering, earned in 2018. Since 2021, Mrinal has been working with upGrad Abroad, where he assists aspiring students in realizing their dreams of studying abroad. With his expertise and dedication, he empowers individuals to navigate the complexities of international education, making their aspirations a reality.

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