Study Guides and Information

ACT Test Information – 2015 New Format
The old ACT Writing section gave students 30 minutes to write an essay in response to a prompt dealing with an issue relevant to teens, such as whether high schools should have a dress code. The prompt provided two points of view and a student could either adopt one of them or develop a unique perspective.

The new test gives students 40 minutes to respond to a prompt drawn from “contemporary issues” – so a test-taker might be asked to reflect on global warming or government surveillance of e-mail rather than whether teens should need a C average to get their driver’s license. Three perspectives on the issue are presented and the test-taker is asked to evaluate them, construct an argument that develops his/her own point of view, and compare it to the three perspectives presented in the prompt.

Finally, the new essay will receive a score of 1 to 36, like the other sections of the ACT, rather than a score of 2 to 12. Of note, however, a student’s writing score will still not influence his/her ACT composite score, which is the average of the other four tests (English, Math, Reading, and Science).

While the new essay is almost certainly a better assessment of a student’s readiness for college-level writing than the old one, it’s also a lot harder, so I’d strongly advise students to familiarize themselves with its format and try a few practice essays before test day.