What’s Going on With the ACT Essay: A Synopsis of Recent Issues with ACT Essay Scoring

tutoringIn September of 2015, changes were made to the essay on the ACT. The essay now has a new system of scoring. In addition, students are asked to approach the essay in a different way than in previous years.

There have been some issues that have come up as a result of these changes. Learn the specifics about some of the changes relating to the ACT essay:

Differences Between the Old ACT Essay and the New ACT Essay
On the old ACT essay, students were given a prompt and asked to take a stand on a particular issue. The new version of the essay gives students a prompt that outlines an issue and offers three perspectives on it. Students must analyze the issue as well as offer their own perspective on it. In addition, they are asked to describe the relationship between their perspective and the ones offered.

Students are given 40 minutes to finish the essay, whereas they were given just 30 minutes on the previous version of the test. As a note, a student’s essay score is not affected by the stance they take on the given issue.

The Old ACT Essay Scoring System vs. the Current System
On the old ACT, students could score from two to 12 points on the essay. A student’s essay was read by two graders – each of these graders gave an essay a score ranging from one to six. The two scores were combined to determine the total amount of points.

Today, students can score from one to 36 points on the new ACT essay. Graders evaluate several aspects of an essay, including its organization, language use, development, support, ideas, and analysis. This new scoring system is designed to reveal more information about a student’s specific writing skills.

What Sorts of Issues Are Occurring With the New Essay Scoring System on the ACT?
One of the recent issues with the new ACT essay scoring system involves students reporting unexpectedly low scores on the essay. Some students are performing well on every other part of the ACT but are getting a low score on the essay, and teachers and school counselors who know the capabilities of their students are questioning these low essay scores. This issue is prompting some students to request that their essay be re-scored.

Another issue with the ACT essay has had to do with timing. Some students who took the ACT in September of 2015 applied to college via early decision or early action. Generally, the deadline for early decision applications is in November and the deadline for early action applications is usually in November or early December. In some cases, ACT essay scores were delayed, making students wonder if their application would still be eligible for early decision or early action.

What Options Do Students Have Regarding Their Essay Score?
Students who don’t agree with their ACT essay score can request to have their essay re-scored. They must make this request in writing within three months of getting their score. There is a fee of $50 to have an essay hand-scored. It takes up to five weeks to get the hand-scoring results. If an error is found, the updated scores are sent out to the student as well as others who received the original scores. Also, a student’s re-scoring fee is refunded.

Tips for Writing an Effective ACT Essay
One of the most effective ways students can prep for this section of the ACT is to write a practice essay. It’s a good idea for a student to time the essay-writing process so they will be able to finish in the allotted 40 minutes. Many students look at high-scoring essays to see what they need to include in order to earn an impressive ACT essay score.

Our ACT courses at Veritas Prep are designed to help students tackle the essay as well as every other section on the test. Each of our talented instructors scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. This means that Veritas Prep students are learning test-taking strategies from the experts! Students can take ACT prep classes from Veritas Prep either online or in person. We give you the tools to showcase your talents on the ACT!

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