How to Help Juniors in the ACT Writing

  • She’s 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 realize that. How different is it?
  • (*Facepalm*) the issue is, the ACT’s writing section is significantly diffent enough from the writing normally done at school that I see a lot of students underperform in a fashion that is totally preventable. Typically “good” writers are becoming scores of 6 or 8 (out of 12), if they ought to be getting more competitive numbers.

    Although it’s certainly not an 11th grade English teacher’s “job” to do ACT/SAT prep or to “teach to your test”, there is a problematic reality that when teachers aren’t getting involved a little, most students won’t fully grasp this knowledge and/or skills anywhere else. And that, 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 are the biggest culprits:

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

    In the event the students haven’t done timed writing in some time, are used to 45 minutes, or are not effective in it, chances are they’ll need assist to cope. Take a look at my timed unit that is writing help students get practice completing a cohesive draft in a shorter time.

    2. Students do not know the (new) rubric.When the ACT changed the writing test in 2016, the prompt style AND the rubric both changed. The assessment is no 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 made in a viewpoint, deploying it to their advantage if necessary
    • (still write a cohesive essay with a thesis and a number of evidence, as before)

    all in thirty minutes or less. English teachers often helps 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 bar that is linguistic high. As well as the content characteristics described in #2, students are meant to have decent grammar, varied sentence structures once and for all flow, transitions within and between paragraphs, and extremely great fiction or synonyms.

    English teachers: if the writing rubrics or style that is gradingn’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 need to see examples. I highly recommend that students head to this url to not only read a sample 6/6 essay, but compare it to a 4 or 5 essay to note its differences. Once I teach my ACT writing lessons, I do a compare/contrast activity because of this. The stakes are high enough that it’s worth groing through a mentor text to see just what the expectations are and debunk the indisputable fact that you will never complete.

    The Bottom Line I’ve been tutoring the ACT for enough time to recognize the differences involving the old and new versions, as well as without “teaching towards the test”, there are simple steps educators can take to simply help juniors stay at or over the average that is national achieve their college dreams. Using even a few of these tips may help students be a little more ready on test day, and more grateful as a teacher that they had you.


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