Search

Blogs Blogs

ACT Writing Blogs

Newest Most Active

Hi all!   If you're reading this then you probably just got the same nasty surprise as I did earlier this month.  The ACT is changing the writing prompt starting in September, and students need to shift gears, A.S.A.P.!    What changed?   Let's start with timing. Students now get 40 minutes for the Writing Test.  They'll need the extra ten minutes, because the prompt, writing task, and planning stages have all been expanded.    remember the old prompt?  Sure, you've been teaching it up until a few hours, days, or maybe weeks ago.  It included 4-5 sentences on a subject having to do with education and schooling, subjects at the forefront of high school students' minds.  The first sentence introduced a problem faced by students or schools.  The second and third sentences introduced two sides of an argument, pro- and con-, and an argument supporting each side.  Finally, the prompt ended with a... read more

Schedule for ACT Crash Course: Lesson 1: Test Basics, ACT Reading Strategies Lesson 2: ACT Reading Question Types Lesson 3: Difficult ACT Reading Passages Lesson 4: Punctuation and Sentence Structure Errors (Basics, Commas, Apostrophes, Run-Ons) Lesson 5: Grammar Errors (Verb, Pronoun, Modifier, Comparison, Coordination) Lesson 6: Rhetorical Skills (Strategy, Organization, Style) and Essay ACT English/Reading Basics: Scored out of 36   Reading Section: (35 minutes) 40 Questions 4 Passages Prose Natural Science Humanities Social Studies English Section: (45 Minutes) 75 Questions Usage/Mechanics Punctuation 13% Grammar/Usage 16% Sentence Structure 24% Rhetorical Skills Rhetorical Strategy 16% Rhetorical Organization 15% Rhetorical Style 16% Writing Section: (30 minutes) 1 essay prompt Scored out of 12 and combined with English score 1 point given for each... read more

I remember how nervous I was during every major test in my life. The SAT, AP Tests before undergraduate school. Then there was the dreaded GRE required for admission to graduate school. Fast forward: my master's degree test involved a full day of writing (with no notes or books). My doctoral exams involved a full day of writing, three times a week for one week (also with no notes or books). Talk about torture! And then there was the faculty review ... whew! But you know what? I needn't have been nervous and neither should you, because "testing" begins the minute you walk into the classroom door. If you pay attention in class, do your homework, stay focused (you can always "play" later), take good care of your mind and body -- exercise a little to relieve stress and stay healthy -- and create a peaceful environment in which to study a little bit every day during the school week, you should be able to retain information and write to the best of your... read more

Test anxiety can impact everyone.  However, with a few strategies, you can overcome these anxieties and excel on your next standardized assessment.   Should you guess? This is a choice you will need to make based on the assessment you are taking.  For certain tests, such as the Praxis, you are scored based only on your correct answers.  However, keep the guessing to a minimum. On the SAT, you lose 1/4 of a point for an incorrect answer, but if you leave it blank, you lose 1 point.  So guessing should be used as a last resort.  Obviously, you should not guess on too many questions. Which leads me to...   Should you omit questions? Only skip questions you find extremely difficult.  Use other strategies to help you determine if you can, in fact, answer these questions before omitting them.  However, do not spend too much time using these strategies, as time is limited.   Should you... read more

Which test to take or if he should take both tests is determined by what colleges he is interested in. Generally even the top schools in the Midwest are looking for high ACT scores, and writing the essay is a plus. The big schools on the coasts generally want the SAT. (Its essay is not optional.) However, to maximize your investment you MUST investigate each individual school's expectations of its incoming freshman class. If both tests are indicated on the basis of what I've just said, then my counsel is to prep and sit for the SAT first, then the ACT.   You may even want to schedule one of each test before investing in paid test prep. It's enormously helpful to me to have that baseline already drawn.   On test dates occurring in December, April, and June, it's even possible to obtain a copy of the exact test and your students' answers. This request is called Test Information Release (TIR). You can request a TIR at the time that you register for the... read more

The tech savvy generation writes a lot via texting but loses a lot in translating that experience to academic writing. Texting is succinct, sometimes cryptic and often casual. Academic writing is formal, structured, and elaborate. Today's student needs to leverage the frequency in which writing is practiced outside of the classroom with the notion that writing changes its form depending upon the audience and purpose. Texting does not meet the writing requirements of academic papers and essay exams. Texting has an idiosyncratic grammar and limited mechanics. Students who text a lot must learn how to 'switch' writing forms when something more formal is required, such as academic writing. While professors appreciate technology and its communicative properties, some traditions die hard and academic writing is one of them. Many professors, not just English ones, are committed to preserving traditional writing forms and formal written discourse. Students should keep this in mind when they... read more

Your teacher hands you a paper at the beginning of class. At the top there are big bold letters declaring “Essay Guidelines”. Another essay? But you have two others due this week! After another all-nighter, classes are long, and you're relieved to gather your things and get ready to head back to your dorm when Professor Stressful adds “By the way, I'd like a five hundred word essay on this topic by the end of the week.” It's easy to get overwhelmed with written assignments, especially if you're not a good writer by nature. Two of my students, one in high school and one a senior in college, used to have a lot of trouble writing anything. As soon as those guidelines were in their hands, if guidelines were even provided, panic would ensue. They've told me it could take hours for them to write a simple three page paper- especially if it involved research. Luckily, there was something I could do for them. My students call this cheating because “there's simply no way... read more

ACT Writing Blogs RSS feed