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The ACT Writing Sample: if it’s optional, why bother taking it?

When you’re taking the ACT, the last section of the test is the “optional” writing sample. You’ve already faced four sections of multiple-choice questions, and now you have to write! Oh, and your essay won’t affect your composite score. So, why bother paying extra for the ACT Plus Writing and sitting through that last half-hour section on test day?

The truth is, your writing score is just one additional piece of evidence that you are providing the admissions officers in support of your eligibility as a college student. Essays are scored on a scale of 1-6, with the higher score going to those that demonstrate effective skill in responding to the task. This score is supplied separately from your composite score of the four multiple-choice sections. Success in the ACT essay demonstrates a student’s ability to respond to a specific prompt, to think critically, and to write effectively. According to the ACT website, “the high school and colleges to which a student has ACT report Writing scores can also view an image of the essay.” So, you never know what kind of impression your writing will leave, but it’s best to play it safe and give your full effort on the ACT essay.

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