About ACT Exam
Writing Sample Scored Essays 1-6
are graded one (1) through six (6) with six(6) being the highest score.
Essay (Score = 6)
This essay demonstrates
effective skill in responding to the writing task.
The essay takes a position on
the issue (extending our high school career to five years would make an
important and beneficial impact on our future) and offers a critical
context for discussion (Yet what we desire most is not always what is best
for us). Complexity is addressed as the writer anticipates and responds to
a counter-argument to the discussion (Even if a school doesn't limit
students' involvement, students eventually reach the limits of what a 24-hour
day can hold). Development is ample, specific and logical, discussing most
ideas fully in terms of the resulting implications (Colleges would see a
longer, more developed individual's resume that included a time for each of
their interests. The organizations would benefit from stronger student
participation and the students would be recognized for their true efforts as
well). Clear focus on the specific issue in the prompt is maintained.
Organization of the essay is
clear though predictable. Most of the essay demonstrates logical sequencing of
ideas (It is difficult to be involved in activities of interest while still
keeping high grades. However, colleges don't consider this when they seek
applicants with high grade-point-averages in their admissions pool. Elongating
the span of high school would allow more students with both grades and
activities on their agenda to spend more time focusing on each separate
interest). Transitions are used throughout the essay (Although, Even if,
However, Rather than) and are often integrated into the essay (Because
they struggle to gain leadership roles and become the well-rounded students
colleges desire, the task of maintaining a respectable grade-point-average
during high school is a struggle for many students). The conclusion and
especially the introduction are effective and well developed.
The essay shows a good
command of language, with precise and varied sentences and word choice (The
Senior Itch-the incurable chaffing we all crave to scratch. . . . Merely being
accepted by a selective college or university requires much pre-planned effort
that is literally unavailable to students already concerned with grades and
There are few errors to
distract the reader.
Sample Essay (Score = 5)
This essay takes a position
in favor of extending high school and offers a broad context for discussion by
situating high school effort within a larger society that values excellence and
high achievement (In a society that constantly tells it's youth they must
have the highest pay check and newest car to be happy, why wouldn't this be the
The essay demonstrates recognition
of complexity with discussion of the complications of the issue in the fourth
paragraph. First, the writer establishes that students never have enough time,
then anticipates the stereotype of the lazy teenager who "sleeps too
much," then attempts to solve the acknowledged complication that "too
much 'vegging' could be a problem." The essay thus demonstrates an ability
to treat the complexity of the issue without undermining the essay's position
Development of ideas is
specific and logical. The essay moves between general ideas (Schools are
always adding new and interesting courses, but for many, like the college bound
student, there just isn't the time) and specific examples (Though an
arts and crafts class might sound like fun, something like AP Music Theory
would probably look better on a transcript). Moreover, some ideas are
developed fully as the writer draws critical conclusions from the discussion (Fifteen
years old seems to early to start making "career" choices over things
that wold be fun).
The essay has a simple
structural organization, but generally demonstrates logical progression of
ideas, especially through the second and fourth paragraphs. Transitions between
ideas are well crafted both between paragraphs (But it happens and it causes
stress. . . . Teenagers in the country have an ever growing load of stress
being placed upon them) and within paragraphs to make logical connections
Language use in the essay is
generally clear, although misspellings of homophones (its/it's, our/are)
are distracting. Some incorrect punctuation is also distracting, but the
mistakes do not impede understanding. Some precise vocabulary (daunting,
fleeting, generation) and a variety of sentence constructions are used
effectively throughout the essay.
Sample Essay (Score = 4)
This essay demonstrates
adequate skill in responding to the task.
The writer takes a position (I
feel that extending high school one more year is a bad idea for three reasons .
. .) and offers some context for the discussion (Educators debate
extending high school to five years due to the increasing demands on students
for employers and colleges. Those for it say that it will give students more
time to achieve what is expected, and those against it say that students would
lost intrest and attendance will drop in year five). The essay also shows
some recognition of complexity by acknowledging multiple perspectives and
providing some response to counter-arguments to the writer's position (Of
course there seems to be advantages and disadvantages to both, but lets be
realistic, in America today, education isn't exactly our most relishing topic).
Development of ideas is
adequate, with three ideas discussed and with some movement between general
statements (extending high school an extra year just seems like a band aid
for all the problems in the field of education) and specific examples and
details (At a time where the illiteracy and dropout rate seems to be rising
as much as gas prices these days, one more year isn't going to cut it). Focus
on the specific issue in the prompt is maintained throughout the essay.
The organization of the essay
is apparent but predictable, with obvious transitions (Firstly, Lastly, So
in conclusion). There is some evidence of logical sequencing within the
third paragraph (coming into senior year, you become a human form of a slug.
. . . the intrest is gone after sophomore year. What makes you think
that it will magically pop up after a addition of one more year? It will just
be more time to be bored). The introduction and conclusion are both clear
and somewhat developed.
The writer demonstrates
adequate ability with language, using a variety of sentence types and some
appropriate word choice (extending, social gathering, physically and
mentally, illiteracy) as well as some inaccurate and distracting word
choice (relishing, incubate). Other errors also distract the reader but
do not impede understanding.
Sample Essay (Score = 3)
This essay shows some
understanding of the writing task.
The writer takes a position
on the issue (Both sides have strong points, but I agree with the educators
who say that their shouldn't be an extension to high school adding a fifth year)
and offers some context for discussion by repeating the prompt as an
introduction. By using the prompt as part of the essay, the writer acknowledges
a counter-argument but does not discuss it at all.
Two main ideas are developed
to support the writer's position (. . . I agree with those people
who say that students would loose interest. . . . I also feel that
there should not be another year to high school because I just feel that it
should be a job of the instructors at an high school to prepare us, high school
students, for college within those four years of high school), with the
first idea repeated twice in separate parts of the discussion (I just think
that five years is too long and students would get bored with school).
Discussion of each idea is limited to general statements that are never
illustrated by specific reasons, examples, or details (I feel that creating
yet another year to high school would decrease the teacher's interest and they
would do a poor job and wait until the fifth year to make up for their mistakes),
but the essay does maintain focus on the specific issue in the prompt.
Organization is simple and
clear but provides no evidence that ideas in the essay are logically sequenced
within the discussion. Simple transitions connect the paragraphs (I agree
. . . I also feel . . . I just think . . .)
without making meaningful connections between ideas. The introduction and
conclusion are clearly discernible as intentional frames for the discussion,
but are underdeveloped-either because the language is merely repeated from the
prompt or because the writer did not extend summation past a single conclusive
Language use shows some
sentence variety (Some adolescence are already loosing interest in school
and an increasing number of students are becoming dropouts) and appropriate
word choice (potential, succeed, attendance). Some errors distract but
do not impede understanding.
Sample Essay (Score = 2)
This essay demonstrates
inconsistent skill in responding to the task. The writer takes a position but
displays no recognition of a counter-argument to that position.
Development of ideas is thin
with general statements to explain the first idea (Students get thrown into
the college setting which is a major shock to them due to the major differences)
and very little explanation of the second idea (Because we have to take the
graduation test in tenth grade we don't learn anything that year).
There is some indication of
an organizational structure: a discernible introduction offers two ideas, with
each discussed in its own paragraph. The conclusion is minimal and not clearly
separated from discussion of the writer's second idea (We need another year
due to that, so we should go one more year to make sure we are ready).
Transitions are simple (but, because).
Sentence structure shows some
variety (I would, not because I like school, not because I enjoy spending
six hours cooped up inside, but because I could use one more year to just be
sure I am completely prepared for college) and word choice is appropriate
to the discussion (cooped up inside, preparatory courses, freshmen's first
Sample Essay (Score = 1)
This essay shows little skill
in responding to the writing task.
While the writer takes a
position on the issue in the beginning of the essay (I think that school
should be extended for five year because it will help you how you are educate),
the rest of the discussion does not convey reasons to support that position.
Instead, the writer minimally develops many different ideas about school in
general, repeating ideas rather than explaining them (School is a place
where you could learn a lot of different that you don't know. I know that I
learn a lot of thing I didn't know but I know them). At times, statements
supporting claims are not understandable (By going to school is a good thing
because if you go to school it could help have experience in everything that
you are doing. To have experience you to do that thing you do best and how well
you do at it).
There is no discernable
organization to the essay other than a minimal introductory statement: ideas
are not logically grouped, no transitions are used, and no conclusion is
offered. Sentence structure and word choice are consistently simple, with
sentences repeatedly beginning with, "I think" or "I know."
Language usage errors are
frequently distracting and contribute to difficulty understanding some portions
of the essay.