ACT Optional Writing Test: Solving Questions with Evidence-Based Reasoning

ACT optional writing test is not made compulsory for students but they are free to include it during the ACT registration process. ACT includes an optional writing test that measures your ability to respond to a prompt about a contemporary issue.

Because you must complete the essay in 40 minutes, it is important to work quickly and efficiently to respond to the prompt in a logical, persuasive manner. You will also need to demonstrate excellent writing skills by using correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as a sophisticated style of writing.

This course will help you do just that by showing you how to approach the prompt and by reviewing key strategies for effective writing. The ACT writing test is an optional add-on to the ACT English test. Your performance on both tests gives colleges and universities a measurement of your ability to adhere to standards of written English and create a college-level writing sample.

Unlike the other ACT tests, the writing test is not multiple-choice. The ACT writing test provides a prompt, usually about a contemporary issue that can trigger a variety of opinions and stances. The prompt includes three different perspectives on the issue. In your response to the prompt, you are asked to consider your point of view and how it fits with the three provided and to write an essay supporting your perspective.

ACT Optional Writing Test Prompt

The heart of the ACT optional writing test is the prompt, which you will see for the first time when you sit down and take the test. Because the topic touches on contemporary issues, you may have already developed or listened to opinions on the given issue. But even if you do not have context for the topic covered in the prompt, you can use the accompanying perspectives to guide your thinking.

The prompt on the ACT writing test asks you to make an argument. The issue at hand will be complex and one that can be considered from many different points of view. The helpful news? Three perspectives are already presented for you. You may agree with one perspective or decide that there are aspects of more than one that fit with your point of view.

ACT Optional Writing Test

Your goal is to develop an argument that considers perspectives other than your own while making a cohesive argument. The trained readers who will score your test are not interested in your perspective—they are interested in the quality of the argument you make to support that perspective

A Sample ACT Optional Writing Test Prompt


More and more schools are replacing traditional textbooks with tablet computers and e-readers. These tools, along with notebook computers distributed to all students, have started to replace the once common paper textbooks, pads of paper, and pencils of the traditional classroom environment. Some predict that schools may be completely “paperless” within the next five to ten years. The digital classroom is generally considered a sign of progress and an inevitable evolution of the public education experience. But what, if anything, is lost when students no longer engage with paper textbooks or put pencils to paper to respond to questions? How might unlimited access to information and technology limit students? Given the rapid changes occurring in schools nationwide, it is worth examining the implications of these changes and how they might affect student learning.


Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each one suggests a particular way of thinking about the evolution of the digital classroom.

Perspective One: Replacing textbooks and paper notebooks with e-books and notebook computers only changes minor mechanical aspects of the classroom experience. Students will still read and write, but they will now do it with digital tools, which will ultimately make learning more efficient and prepare them for the modern workforce.

Perspective Two: Digital tools like e-books, notebooks, and computers simplify learning to the degree that students no longer use important skills. Auto-correct and in-text dictionaries deprive students of valuable opportunities for critical.

Perspective Three: Certainly, in a perfect world, all students would have equal access to all tools. Unfortunately, digital classrooms will likely be the luxury of middle-class school districts and will widen the gap between the quality of education accessible to poor and middle-class students. To achieve equity in education, the change to digital classrooms must be undertaken cautiously.

This example is similar to the prompt you will encounter on the ACT writing test: a current topic is presented and three different perspectives on that topic are given, and you are directed to write an essay in which you analyze the given perspectives, state your own perspective, and explain how your perspective is related to those provided.

To achieve the highest score, write your essay with the graders in mind. Rather than write in a stream-of-consciousness style all of your opinions on the issue at hand, you’ll need to pay attention to certain aspects in your writing to appeal to the graders. Your ACT essay will be scored in four writing domains:

  • Ideas and Analysis
  • Development and Support
  • Organization
  • Language Use and Conventions

How Long Should Your ACT Optional Writing Test Essay Be?

There is no minimum or maximum number of words required, but most essays that score in the upper range are between 300 and 400 words. Do your best to elaborate on every point you make, without repeating yourself or adding unnecessary details to the essay. The scorers want to see an essay that presents a well-rounded point of view in a coherent, concise way.

Note that the ACT writing test is optional, more and more colleges and universities are now making it a requirement for admission. Be sure to check whether the schools to which you are applying require it.

Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the evolution of the digital classroom. In your essay, be sure to

  • analyze and evaluate the perspectives given
  • state and develop your perspective on the issue
  • explain the relationship between your perspective and those given

Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.

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