No one likes to write timed, academic essays on college entrance exams. However, eventually we all have to do it.
Stop avoiding the inevitable, and figure this thing out. Writing for the ACT/SAT doesn't have to be painful.
Use these tips when writing for a timed, academic essay, such as the ACT/SAT writing test.
- Be clear and concise. Remember, essay graders are looking over 20-30 essays a day, possible hundreds a week. They don’t have time to go around the world trying identify your position or topic. Get to the point as quickly as possible.
- State your main point in your thesis statement. This is the LAST sentence of the first paragraph. This tells the grader what your paper is about and what your position is on the issue presented. State a claim or a position here, then use the rest of your essay focusing on this and only this.
- Stay on topic. If it isn’t stated in your thesis in one way or another, leave it out. Extra or dangling ideas/perspectives/claims, not aligned with your initial position in your thesis, should be DELETED. Stick to the point, don’t get off track.
- Stay organized. Essay graders love an organized essay that flows logically. Use the prompt to organize your writing. For example, the ACT writing will ask you to summarize three different perspectives on a particular issue. Therefore, explain each perspective in its own separate paragraph. Don't commingle ideas; stick to one idea per paragraph.
- Use the words, “for example” and “such as”. Essay graders love, love, love it when writers attach concrete examples to explanations. Use specific events or objects to support your claim. For example, when writing about individual rights in the US, using the civil rights movement to support your claims would nab you extra points.
- Be academic. This isn't a creative writing contest. You need to get in, write technically, and get out. Use quotes and examples to support your claims, but keep it systematic - it should be predictable and follow a pattern.
Along with these general tips, I've developed a 9 min ACT writing course. This video and resources break down the ACT writing process to help you gain points as quickly as possible.
- An infographic
- 9 min video showing you exactly how to use this method to kill the essay on test day.
- Practice essay prompts.
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