Simple tips to Help Juniors regarding the ACT Writing

  • She actually is a good writer. She’ll be fine.
  • They write essays on a regular basis.

  • Yeah, I’m using the writing test. It is simply an essay, no deal that is big.
  • Oh, the essay section changed in 2016? Did not understand that. How different can it be?
  • (*Facepalm*) the thing is, the ACT’s writing section is different enough from the writing normally done at school that I see plenty of students underperform in a manner that is wholly preventable. Typically “good” writers are getting scores of 6 or 8 (away from 12), if they should always be getting decidedly more competitive numbers.

    Although it’s not necessarily an 11th grade English teacher’s “job” to do ACT/SAT prep or even “teach to the test”, there’s a problematic reality that when teachers aren’t getting involved a little, most students will not get this knowledge and/or skills anywhere else. And therefore, my teacher friend, is worrisome.

    An english teacher can take to help juniors be more ready so what’s going on, and what are the easiest steps?

    Here you will find the biggest culprits:

    1. The timing is much more intense than school. It is 30 minutes total, including reading the prompt while the entire brainstorm, draft, and proofread process. That task can be daunting if students get writer’s block, have test anxiety, do not understand the prompt when you look at the heat of the moment, or struggle to wrestle their ideas into submission.

    Then they’ll need help to cope if your students haven’t done timed writing in a while, are accustomed to 45 minutes, or aren’t proficient at it. Take a look at my timed writing unit to help students get practice completing a cohesive draft in a shorter time.

    2. Students don’t know the (new) rubric.When the ACT changed the writing test in 2016, the style that is prompt the rubric both changed. The assessment isn’t any longer just a typical 5-paragraph (or so) opinion essay. Students are meant to also:

    • acknowledge, support, or refute other viewpoints
    • provide some mixture of context, implications, significance, etc.
    • recognize flaws in logic or assumptions built in a viewpoint, deploying it for their advantage if necessary
    • (still write a cohesive essay with a thesis and many different evidence, as before)

    all in thirty minutes or less. English teachers will help by at the very least going over the rubric in class, if not assigning an ACT-style essay that gets assessed as part of the class.

    3. The linguistic bar is high. Besides the content characteristics described in #2, students are supposed to have grammar that is decent varied sentence structures once and for all flow, transitions within and between paragraphs, and really great fiction or synonyms.

    English teachers: in case the writing rubrics or grading style don’t typically address these, consider bringing it up in class, assessing for those characteristics regarding the next essay, or reading over a mentor text that DOES meet this bar (see #4).

    4. They have to see examples. I highly recommend that students head to this backlink to not merely read a sample 6/6 essay, but compare it to a 4 or 5 essay to notice its differences. I do a compare/contrast activity for this reason when I teach my ACT writing lessons. The stakes are high enough that it is worth groing through a mentor text to see what the expectations are and debunk the proven fact that it’s impossible to complete.

    The conclusion I’ve been tutoring the ACT for enough time to acknowledge the distinctions amongst the old and new versions, as well as without “teaching towards the test”, there are simple actions educators buy essay may take to simply help juniors stay at or above the average that is national achieve their college dreams. Using even some of those tips will help students be a little more ready on test day, and a lot more grateful that they had you as a teacher.