The ACT’s essay portion is known as the ACT writing test. While this portion of the ACT is technically optional, students applying to selective schools are strongly encouraged to take it, as many colleges recommend or require essay scores.
The writing test asks students to write an argumentative essay about an issue of wide relevance to modern society. The test provides a description of the issue along with three possible perspectives, and students are tasked with writing an essay in which they state their perspective and support it with relevant evidence and examples.
The ACT essay is scored and reported separately from the multiple choice sections. Two different readers assign a score between 1 and 6 in each of four “domains”: Ideas & Analysis, Development & Support, Organization, and Language Use & Conventions. The two readers’ scores are added together, resulting in a total score between 2 and 12 in each dimension.