ACT Writing scores are reported on a scale of 1–36, and colleges usually require at least a score of 18 or higher to be considered for admission. However, it’s important to note that some colleges will take the average of multiple test dates or your highest score (if you took the test more than once), so these requirements may not apply to every college in your wish list. In this article, we’ll look at which colleges require ACT Writing and what the most competitive schools are asking for in terms of score ranges and average scores.
How to find out if you need to take the writing portion of the ACT?
Contacting individual colleges is the best way to find out if a college requires a writing portion on an entrance exam. Generally, those that have an international focus or a high percentage of English as a Second Language students will require your child to take both sections of the ACT. However, most schools that require or recommend both sections do not specify which section should be taken first.
This decision may depend on whether you want your student’s highest composite score used for admission. If so, they should take one section before taking another because it takes several weeks for scores from different test dates to be released and combined into one composite score.
Understanding why colleges require it
Students who wish to attend college are surprised to learn they must take both the SAT and ACT. In fact, some students never register for one of these tests despite receiving a denial letter from their dream school. Many don’t realize why colleges require standardized tests, but it comes down to two things: determining your chances of being admitted and gauging how prepared you are for success at that particular institution.
Do well on these exams, and you might be able to waive other admissions requirements like an interview or application essay do poorly on them, and you’ll have a hard time getting into top-tier schools regardless of your grades or extracurriculars.
How does it affect your college application process?
The essay portion of the ACT is a piece that many students overlook and underestimate. However, just like on its older sibling, the SAT and engaging essay can make or break your application to a certain college. Some schools require you to write an essay as part of their standardized testing.
If you’re considering any one of these institutions for college (and I hope you are), we recommend spending more time on their essays than anything else on your application. Why? Because in some cases, it could be worth more points than your actual GPA!
How to prepare for it if needed?
The following are suggested ways of preparing for ACT writing. As you review these, please keep in mind that it is your responsibility to prepare and work hard to do well on test day. Even if you do everything suggested below, there is no guarantee that you will get a good score on test day.
Everyone has bad days, and everyone can find himself unprepared when he goes into a test situation. By taking as many practice tests as possible after studying, you will be able to identify and address any weaknesses or gaps in your preparation.
What are common mistakes students make while taking this portion of the test?
Even if you’re feeling confident about your ACT, it can be easy to make a few mistakes that might cost you points. One big mistake students make is leaving out important information when explaining an idea. If you want to get those points back, take care to explain fully and avoid jumping from one idea to another without connecting them clearly.
Another common problem is just rushing through sections of writing because you don’t have time or confidence in yourself. The best way to solve that issue is simply practising timed sections as often as possible so you can feel comfortable with them on test day.
Finally, many students make simple grammar mistakes when writing their essays, like not knowing how to properly punctuate sentences or using poor vocabulary choices. When preparing for ACT essay questions, try reading professional articles and analyzing their use of language. By doing so, you can learn what words to use in your own writing and which ones should stay out!
What should be expected on test day?
The writing section comprises two separately timed portions, each containing one prompt. Students are given 35 minutes to write an essay about an Argument and 40 minutes to write an essay about one of two prompts on Analysis of an Issue. For each of these essays, you’ll be allotted 30 minutes or 1 page (whichever comes first) for free-response writing.
The total score for your writing test is reported on a scale from 2–12, with a 5 as the national average. Neither portion counts toward your composite ACT score. Your scores will still be reported out of 36 points. To achieve a top score of 36, you need to get at least a 4 in both categories and no lower than 3 in either category.
By far, most colleges require you to take both ACT and SAT subject tests. In fact, only 7% of colleges do not require any standardized testing. Since admission officers can’t predict how a student will perform on one exam or another, all three are usually required for admission. However, suppose you’re applying to an exclusive college or university and have an impressive GPA or class rank. In that case, you may be able to get into your dream school without taking any standardized exams at all!