ACT Essay Tips

essay-main_FullThe prompt should be read carefully. Twice. ACT essays often present a prompt that is a paragraph or longer. It is imperative to know exactly what the prompt is asking in order to respond to all of its components. Be sure to address each aspect of the prompt in the essay.

Next, use five minutes to create a sketch of an outline. The test does not allow time for a detailed plan of the essay, but have an idea of the points that should be addressed and the evidence that will be presented. Though it may be tempting to forego the outline in an effort to begin writing immediately, remember that planning the essay is often the most difficult and time-consuming part, and is easier to do before beginning than in the midst of composition.

In the first paragraph, describe the issue being addressed in the essay and present a clear and specific thesis statement. The thesis should identify the writer’s position on the topic and briefly describe the three or four points that he or she will make in defending that position. Remember when composing the thesis statement that it does not need to be profound—there isn’t much time for profundity on ACT essays—it just needs to be clear and take a position.

The body of the essay should follow the plan outlined in the thesis by devoting a paragraph to each of the three or four points mentioned in the thesis statement. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that defines the point being made, and then proceed to present examples of that point and how it supports the position of the writer.

The conclusion should not simply summarize the body of the paper, but should comment on how the point and evidence presented in the essay further or bolster the position the writer has taken.

The best preparation for a timed essay test is practice. The more experience one has with fast essay preparation and execution, the easier ACT essays will be.


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