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How to prep for the writing portion of the ACT?

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My rising junior took the ACT (without the writing portion) for the first time last June. He did very well, and is considering applying to a couple of colleges that require the writing section. Can anyone recommend some resources to help him prepare for that part of the test?



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Speed and look of handwriting are super important - the essays are graded VERY quickly. 


Take a strong stance on either side of the issue. 


Have some vocabulary in mind, ready to use. You want a few advanced words that you know how to spell and that can be worked into many different topics, and you want some transition words at the ready (both things they scan for). 


Make peace with the fact that you are not trying to write a good essay, but rather a good ACT essay. 


I will emphasize again that handwriting is important. My dd has been typing forever, so between the fact that she rarely writes for long and that the writing portion comes last, her hand was physically fatigued and it slowed her down. Before her sister takes it, we are going to add daily copywork back into her school day, both to aid with fatigue and the look of her handwriting. 


You can look at sample essays and how they are scored here: http://www.actstudent.org/writing/sample/


Most prep books will have a variety of prompts to practice with.



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In addition to all of the excellent suggestions above, we started by practicing essays from actual ACT prompts, un-timed--and even going back and revising to work in all the elements needed, seeing where it could be improved, etc.  Then gradually as dd started to get the hang of it, we added in timing, and lastly stopped revising. It seemed to be effective for dd, who scored well on the test. 

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