Perfect Score On Act Essay Examples

The ACT® essay is a great way to wow universities with your college-ready writing skills. While you can’t be sure what the essay will ask about ahead of time, you can use the same general structure for every ACT® essay!

The following provides helpful suggestions for writing your essay. You do not need to copy this approach exactly; think of it as an extremely useful framework.

 

1st paragraph = 4 sentences
1. Hook (a question or statement that grabs the reader’s attention)
2. Restate the first point of view.
3. Restate the opposition.
4. State your thesis AND include the type of examples you will use.
2nd paragraph = at least 5 sentences
1. Introduction with a transition
2 – 4. Details about your example
5. A sentence that states how your example SPECIFICALLY supports your thesis
3rd paragraph = at least 5 sentences
1. Introduction to your example with a transition
2 – 4. Details about your example
5. A sentence that states how your example SPECIFICALLY supports your thesis
4th paragraph = at least 5 sentences
1. Introduction with a transition & an acknowledgement of the opposition
2 – 4. Details about your example
5. A sentence that states how your example SPECIFICALLY supports your thesis
OPTIONAL paragraph (helpful for scoring a 10 or above)
1. Introduction with a transition & an acknowledgement of the opposition
2 – 4. Details about your example
5. A sentence that states how your example SPECIFICALLY supports your thesis
Conclusion paragraph = 2 sentences
1. Use a concluding transition word, mention the examples you used and state that they clearly support your thesis
2. A Zinger (just like a hook, except it is used at the last sentence of the entire essay)
Educators debate extending high school to five years because of increasing demands on students from employers and colleges to participate in extracurricular activities and community service in addition to having high grades. Some educators support extending high school to five years because they think students need more time to achieve all that is expected of them. Other educators do not support extending high school to five years because they think students would lose interest in school and attendance would drop in the fifth year. In your opinion, should high school be extended to five years?
In your essay, take a position on this question. You may write about either one of the two points of view given, or you may present a different point of view on this question. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Sample Essay Using Template


1st paragraph = 3 sentences
1. Hook (a question or statement that grabs the reader’s attention) Is high school really the best time of one’s life?
2. Restate the first point of view. Some people think that high school should be five years instead of four years long.
3. Restate the opposition. Others contend that extending the length of high school will not be beneficial for students.
4. State your thesis AND include the type of examples you will use. Schools should not change the four-year schedule because an additional year will cost too much money, students will lose motivation, and a fifth year would be stressful.
2nd paragraph = at least 5 sentences
1. Introduction with a transition. Even if high school is the pinnacle of one’s life, it cannot simply be extended without consequences.
2 – 4. Details about your example. In schools across the country, students are already suffering from budget cuts, and an extra year would simply compound the problem.  The most expensive part of any school district’s budget is teacher salaries, and it would take more teachers to staff the additional classes that a fifth year would require. No matter how much a fifth year might help, to take away from the existing budget would lead to fewer supplies to go around, larger class sizes, and further under-compensated educators.
5. A sentence that states how your example SPECIFICALLY supports your thesis. In short, no matter how enjoyable a fifth year may be to teenagers, schools simply cannot afford it.
3rd paragraph = at least 5 sentences
1. Introduction to your example with a transition. If money isn’t a compelling enough reason to deter districts from adding a fifth year, consider the universal plague of senior-itis.
2 – 4. Details about your example. Students as young as 14 complain that they are sick of high school and can’t wait for it to be over.  College sounds fun and exciting, and high school is the hurdle standing in the way.  High schoolers want to live in dorms, eat in a dining hall, and sleep in to noon.  To deny them of that opportunity for an entire year would decrease the likelihood of them following through with that dream.
5. A sentence that states how your example SPECIFICALLY supports your thesis. Really, the only cure for senior-itis is graduation, so prolonging that outcome will only dampen students’ spirits.
4th paragraph = at least 5 sentences
1. Introduction with a transition & an acknowledgement of the opposition. It is tempting to require a fifth year of high school to help teenagers develop life skills that are beneficial in the job market, but colleges provide that help without the added stress of attending a school that is determined based on geography alone.
2 – 4. Details about your example. High school students across America feel marginalized within their schools because they cannot find friends who have the same interests.  In small towns, everyone knows everyone else, and it is difficult to “re-invent” oneself.  College allows for personal and creative freedom that leads to self-assurance and general satisfaction.
5. A sentence that states how your example SPECIFICALLY supports your thesis. College is a much better time to learn about being an adult because it is much easier to envision oneself as an adult when the pressures of growing up aren’t constant stresses.
OPTIONAL paragraph (helpful for scoring a 10 or above)
1. Introduction with a transition. The process of advancing through high school as a springboard into advanced studies may not be perfect, but extending the journey could be disastrous.
2 – 4. Details about your example. Any issue that a high school currently faces will not get any better by adding a fifth year.  Everything from violence to drop-out rates to lack of interest in extracurricular programs will be exacerbated by the implementation of a fifth year of high school.  Even if enough support could be generated to institute such a measure, it would likely be reversed after seeing the ramifications.
5. A sentence that states how your example SPECIFICALLY supports your thesis. High schoolers have enough problems already, so making them stay in a place that suffers from a multitude of issues will not be in their best interest.
Conclusion paragraph = 2 sentences
1. Use a concluding transition word, mention the examples you used and state that they clearly support your thesis. In all, a fifth year of high school would cripple the already wounded system in terms of money, motivation, and stress.
2. A Zinger (just like a hook, except it is used at the last sentence of the entire essay). If America is truly concerned with helping its youth, people will make every effort to improve the four years of high school that we already have.
Tags:ACT essay

Are you debating whether or not to take the optional ACT essay? Some schools require it, so we highly recommend that you take it (make sure to register for ACT with Writing).

But no need to stress! The essay follows a predictable format, which means you can practice and prepare beforehand. Take a look at a sample ACT writing prompt and learn five key steps to penning a high-scoring essay.

ACT Writing Prompt

This example writing prompt comes straight from our book Cracking the ACT:


Education and the Workplace

Many colleges and universities have cut their humanities departments, and high schools have started to shift their attention much more definitively toward STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and away from ELA (English, Language Arts). Representatives from both school boards and government organizations suggest that the move toward STEM is necessary in helping students to participate in a meaningful way in the American workplace. Given the urgency of this debate for the future of education and society as a whole, it is worth examining the potential consequences of this shift in how students are educated in the United States.

Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each suggests a particular way of thinking about the shift in American education.

Perspective 1 Perspective 2 Perspective 3
ELA programs should be emphasized over STEM programs. Education is not merely a means to employment: ELA education helps students to live more meaningful lives. In addition, an exclusively STEM-based program cannot help but limit students’ creativity and lead them to overemphasize the importance of money and other tangible gains. ELA programs should be eradicated entirely, except to establish the basic literacy necessary to engage in the hard sciences, mathematics, and business. Reading and writing are activities that are best saved for the leisure of students who enjoy them. ELA and STEM programs should always be in equal balance with one another. Both are necessary to providing a student with a well-rounded education. Moreover, equal emphasis will allow the fullest possible exposure to many subjects before students choose their majors and careers

Essay Task

Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the issue of how schools should balance STEM and ELA subjects. In your essay, be sure to:

  • analyze and evaluate the perspectives given
  • state and develop your own perspective on the issue
  • explain the relationship between your perspective and those given

Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.

How to Write the ACT Essay

Your job is to write an essay in which you take some sort of position on the prompt, all while assessing the three perspectives provided in the boxes. Find a way to anchor your essay with a unique perspective of your own that can be defended and debated, and you are already in the upper echelon of scorers.

Step 1: Work the Prompt

What in the prompt requires you to weigh in? Why is this issue still the subject of debate and not a done deal?

Step 2: Work the Perspectives

Typically, the three perspectives will be split: one for, one against, and one in the middle. Your goal in Step 2 is to figure out where each perspective stands and then identify at least one shortcoming of each perspective. For the example above, ask yourself: 

  • What does each perspective consider?
  • What does each perspective overlook?

Step 3: Generate Your Own Perspective

Now it's time to come up with your own perspective! If you merely restate one of the three given perspectives, you won’t be able to get into the highest scoring ranges. You’ll draw from each of the perspectives, and you may side with one of them, but your perspective should have something unique about it.

Step 4: Put It All Together

Now that you have your ideas in order, here's a blueprint for how to organize the ACT essay. This blueprint works no matter what your prompt is.

Introduction

  • Start with a topic sentence the restates the central issue
  • Clearly state your position on the issue

Body Paragraph (1)

  • Start with a transition/topic sentence that discusses the OPPOSING SIDE of your argument
  • Discuss the given perspective(s) that would support the opposing argument
  • Give a specific example that could be used to support the opposing perspective
  • Explain why you disagree with the opposing perspective
Body Paragraph (2)
  • Start with a transition/topic sentence that discusses YOUR POSITION on the central issue
  • Explain your position including any of the given perspectives that support your position
  • Give an example that supports your position
  • End the paragraph by restating your position
Conclusion
  • Recap your discussion
  • Restate your perspective and arguments
  • Provide a final overarching thought on the topic

Step 5: (If There's Time): Proofread

Spend one or two minutes on proofreading your essay if you have time. You’re looking for big, glaring errors. If you find one, erase it completely or cross it out neatly. Though neatness doesn’t necessarily affect your grade, it does make for a happy grader.


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