Home > Articles

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Preparing for the ACT Writing Test

There are several effective ways to get ready for the Writing test. The preparatory reading of high-quality magazines and periodicals you have been doing for the ACT Reading test will also serve you well in this part of the test. Reading good writing helps your own writing improve. You will come to recognize how an opening sentence hooks the reader, how an article or essay is organized, and how a conclusion is intended to tie up the entire piece. You will also come to know which writing simply makes sense and sounds good to you.

As you read, pay close attention to the particular words a writer uses, how sentences and articles are organized, the tone of the writer, and how a writer’s opinion is first stated and then expanded upon in different types of articles and writing. Think about how some articles hold your interest, whereas others are written in what may be referred to as a flat or boring tone. You’ll want your writing to be of interest to those who read it, no matter what you are writing about.

Regardless of how good a writer you believe yourself to be, you will need to practice your own essay writing to prepare for this test. You will have to think and write relatively quickly here because the Writing test requires you to complete your essay in a half-hour’s time.

In the days and weeks ahead, and as your study and preparation time permit, choose topics from the list on this page and practice thinking fast and writing 300 to 500 words off the top of your head. Use lined paper and pencil just like you will do on the actual test. Don’t use a computer to type up your work; you may falsely believe that you are a quicker writer than you actually will be under strict test conditions. You won’t have spell check or grammar check to fall back on when you take the writing test.

Keep in mind that your reading and writing preparation is essential to your success on this test. Like the other parts of the ACT Assessment, it is also fundamental for you to already be completely familiar with this test section’s instructions prior to the morning you take the test.

Spend some time now reading and thinking about the instructions for the ACT Writing test. Keep in mind that just like the other areas of the test, the wording here may be a bit different from what you see on the actual test you take, but the directions themselves will never change from test to test. When you take the test, feel free to skim the instructions and move on to the actual paragraph and begin writing.

As the test directions explain, on the Writing test you will be presented with a short topic paragraph. You will read it, consider the viewpoints or angles about the topic, and then formulate an essay in response to the prompt at the end of the paragraph.

Writing the essay won’t require specific knowledge about any particular subject you may be unfamiliar with. Rather, the essay will always be about something that anyone in your position would be able to comfortably write about. Your essay will not be graded on what you state as your opinion, but on how well you are stating it.

The "plain, natural style" the directions refer to means just that—write as if you are talking to the reader. Don’t embellish your essay with big words meant to impress the essay’s scorer. It will seem forced and fake. Don’t make yourself write in a different way than you normally do. Clear, natural, and uncomplicated writing works perfectly on the Writing test.

Read and consider the following example of a typical topic you might encounter on the Writing test:

  • The city where you live is considering converting an old and unused movie theater into a teen center. The new teen center would have pool tables, Ping-Pong tables, arcade games, a concession stand, and would be designed to keep the city’s teens off the streets and out of trouble at night.

  • Many residents of the city are not happy with the idea. These people say that the teens will get into even more trouble in the teen center; that there will be insufficient supervision as no city employees will want to work the late hours required. They also say it would cost too much money to renovate the movie theater, and they wonder aloud where this money will come from. Many parents say that the city’s basketball complex is where the teens should be hanging out, there or in their own home studying.

  • Argue in favor of or against the teen center.

It is probable that after reading the paragraph, you have ideas swimming in your head about how you would write an essay to respond to the prompt. If given adequate time, it is a sure bet that you could write a decent essay clearly stating your viewpoints and including sentences backing up your opinions. The problem is that you may not have adequate time to get down all your ideas and write a good essay. In order to get a quality essay written in 30 minutes, you will need a good system.

To respond to the prompt, you will use the writing process. It is probable that you have been using the writing process with all your essay and article writing throughout your junior high and high school career. For our purposes here, we are going to assume that the writing process consists of the following phases (although you might not know these phases by the names given here or have separated the different phases quite like this):

  • Prewriting—Thinking of ideas, outlining, jotting down notes

  • Drafting—Writing a preliminary first try of a piece

  • Revising—Rereading your initial draft and making notes on what needs to be changed, rewriting the draft with those changes, and then considering your final copy

  • Presenting—Ending up with a polished work of writing

Each of these phases is part of the process of writing and must be completed to ensure a quality piece of work. Although the entire writing process can take anywhere from days to weeks to even months for some longer works, for the Writing test you have just a short time to complete all the writing process’s components. To do this, you will have to think fast, write, and be confident in what you are writing about. You won’t be able to crumble up your paper and start again when there is only a half-hour to complete your work.

Pearson IT Certification Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Pearson IT Certification and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Pearson IT Certification products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.pearsonitcertification.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020