During high school, you’re probably most used to writing an essay to prove a fact. You’ve probably written some though that focused on your opinion. That’s what the ACT looks for. They provide you with an essay topic where you have to write on your opinion and work on persuading the reader to see it from your point of view. If you’re not quite familiar with this type of writing or haven’t done it much, here’s how you can approach the ACT (and SAT) writing portion.
Choose a Perspective
The ACT’s essay topic will provide you with three different perspectives. One that is for the topic, one that is against, and one that is sort of split down the middle. You can choose one of these and argue that for your essay, or you can mix a bit and make it your own opinion or perspective.
However, just make sure you can back up your perspective with actual reasoning. You don’t want to tackle a side you don’t believe and make it more difficult for yourself. Choose a perspective you agree with and explain your reasoning.
Explain Your Stance
Once you’ve chosen your perspective, it’s time to work on your essay. Your writing should have an introduction, two or three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. It may be helpful if you plan out or brainstorm your essay before you start writing it. Take a bit of scrap paper (you can use your test booklet) to write a quick structure for your argument before you begin. This brainstorming step can help ensure you stay on topic and don’t lose your train of thought mid essay.
Your introduction should introduce the issue at hand and include a sentence that explains your perspective on the issue or problem in your own words. (Don’t reuse the wording the ACT provides.)
You should then use the body paragraphs to back up your stance. Give examples that support your position. You can also talk about the opposing side of your perspective and why you don’t agree with that. Make sure you start each paragraph with a topic or transition sentence and end it with a sentence that sums up the section.
During the conclusion, you’ll want to provide a quick summary of your stance and reasoning, and provide a final sentence on the subject.
Proofread Your Persuasive Essay
If you timed yourself correctly on the essay, there’s a good chance you will have time to proofread and edit your writing. You’ll definitely want to take advantage of these few minutes.
Read over what you wrote for the ACT writing section and make sure to edit any glaring misspellings, grammar mistakes, or other errors. You’ll also want to check to make sure your argument makes sense.
The best way to prepare for writing your persuasive ACT essay is to practice. When you’re studying for the ACT, don’t skip the essay portion of your practice exam. You’ll want to use the example topics they provide for a good idea of what to expect on the real deal, but make sure you’re also following the time limits so you know exactly how quickly you need to brainstorm, plan, write, and proofread your essay.
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