Practicing for a great ACT Writing score

You get 40 minutes to write, but ACT graders have to grade each essay in less than five.

The way to get a great ACT writing score is to make the graders’ jobs easy. So, don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on the big picture: a clear position, logical organization, and strong examples.

ACT Writing Rubric

The ACT essay is scored by two graders who will each assign a score of 1–6 for a total score of 2–12.

View a sample ACT essay prompt. Your ACT writing score will be based on how well you can do the following:

SubscoreWhat It IsHow to Score Big
Ideas and Analysis Can you build an argument and assess the argument of others? You won’t be graded on whether you pick the “right” answer. Instead, you’ll be graded on how complex and sophisticated your answers are.
Development and Support Can you support your ideas with examples? Graders want to see that you can justify your position. Nothing damages the opposing argument like a killer counterexample.
Organization Can you make your points in an order that makes sense? Make sure your essay is organized. Must-haves: introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion.
Language Use and Conventions Can you write clearly? Graders will forgive a few stray errors, but if your grammar and spelling get in the way of what you’re trying to say, those mistakes could cost you.

What's a Good ACT Writing Score?

The ACT Writing Test is scored on a scale of 2 (lowest score) to 12 (highest score). The average ACT Writing score is between a 6 and 7. Here's a look at national ACT writing score percentiles, according to the latest data released by ACT, Inc.

12 100th
11 99th
10 98th
9 95th
8 87th
7 65th
6 45th
5 23th
4 11th
3 3rd
2 1st


More ACT Writing Tips

Your argument, organization, and supporting examples are the most crucial pieces of your essay, but these four writing tips can help boost your score.

1. Go Long

Yes, ACT graders really do tend to reward longer essays. Try to write at least four paragraphs spanning two to three pages. If your handwriting is large, make sure you write an extra page to compensate!

2. Keep It Interesting

Vary your sentence structure to improve the rhythm of your essay. If you write a really long sentence with lots of modifiers and dependent clauses, it sometimes helps to follow it with a shorter, more direct sentence. It really works.

3. Watch Your Word Choice

Sprinkle some nice vocabulary words throughout your essay (make sure to spell them correctly!). If you’re uncertain about the meaning or spelling of a word, it’s best just to pick a different word. Using a big word incorrectly makes a worse impression than using a smaller word correctly.

4. Practice Your Best Handwriting

Though graders shouldn’t take neatness into consideration when determining your ACT writing score, the bottom line is that a neat, legible essay is easier to read. And a happy grader is a good thing! For an essay that's truly easy on the eyes, make sure you indent each paragraph and avoid messy cross-outs.

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