ACT Writing Enhanced


Starting in September 2015, ACT will introduce a number of enhancements to the ACT writing test. Key differences between the former and the enhanced designs are outlined below.

To download a writing scoring rubric to see what the new guidelines are.

View a sample writing prompt to see a representative of the prompts that will be used for the ACT writing test.

Writing Prompt

Many elements of the writing prompts will remain the same. For example, the test is still an exercise in argumentative writing, and it continues to measure core competencies that are linked to college and career success.

Modifications to the writing prompt will build on the former design in a few important ways:

Design Modifications Former Design
(Through the June 2015 Test Event)
Enhanced Design
(Beginning in the September 2015 Test Events)
A broader range of engaging subject matter Presents controversies around school-themed issues Presents conversations around contemporary issues
Prompt offers different points of access to the issue Gives positions for/against the issue Offers three diverse perspectives that encourage critical engagement with the issue
Writing task more clearly resembles real-world argumentation Asks students to take a position on the issue Asks students to develop an argument that puts their own perspective in dialogue with others
More structure for planning and more time for composing 30 minutes to plan and compose

Blank space for planning

40 minutes to plan and compose

Guidance and structure for planning and prewriting

Writing Scores

Scoring and reporting for the ACT writing test have also been updated. Instead of one holistic score, students will receive four domain scores, each reflecting a key dimension of writing competency. They will also receive a subject-level Writing Score and an English Language Arts (ELA) Score on the familiar 1–36 scale. This allows for precise evaluation of student writing and a more detailed score report.

Former ACT Writing Scores
(Through the June 2015 Test Event)
Holistic Writing Score 2–12
Combined English/Writing Score 1–36


New ACT Writing Scores
(Beginning in the September 2015 Test Events)
Subject-Level Writing Score 1–36
Individual Domain Scores
Ideas and Analysis 2–12
Development and Support 2–12
Organization 2–12
Language Use and Conventions 2–12
ELA score (an average of the English, reading and writing tests) 1–36
For more information concerning the Writing test of the ACT, please visit their website here.