Simple tips to Help Juniors from the ACT Writing
They write essays on a regular basis.
(*Facepalm*) the issue is, the ACT’s writing section is different enough from the writing normally done in school that I see plenty of students underperform in a fashion that is totally preventable. Typically “good” writers are receiving scores of 6 or 8 (away from 12), if they ought to be getting ultimately more competitive numbers.
Although it’s certainly not an 11th grade English teacher’s “job” to do ACT/SAT prep or even to “teach towards the test”, there is a problematic reality that when teachers don’t get involved a little, most students will not get this knowledge and/or skills anywhere else. And therefore, my teacher friend, is worrisome.
What exactly’s going on, and what are the easiest steps an English teacher can take to assist juniors become more ready?
Here you will find the biggest culprits:
1. The timing is much more intense than school. It is 30 minutes total, including reading the prompt and the brainstorm that is entire draft, and proofread process. That task may be daunting if students get writer’s block, have test anxiety, hardly understand the prompt when you look at the heat associated with moment, or struggle to wrestle their ideas into submission.
In case your students haven’t done timed writing in some time, are accustomed to 45 minutes, or aren’t proficient at it, chances are they’ll need assist to cope. Check out my timed writing unit to help students get practice completing a cohesive draft in a shorter time.
2. Students do not know the (new) rubric.When the ACT changed the writing test in 2016, the prompt style AND the rubric both changed. The assessment is not any longer just a typical 5-paragraph (or so) opinion essay. Students are supposed to also:
- acknowledge, support, or refute other viewpoints
- provide some combination of context, implications, significance, etc.
- recognize flaws in logic or assumptions produced in a viewpoint, deploying it to their advantage if necessary
- (still write a cohesive essay with a thesis and a number of evidence, as before)
all in 30 minutes or less. English teachers will help by at least going over the rubric essay help in class, if not assigning an ACT-style essay that gets assessed as part of the class.
3. The linguistic bar is high. In addition to the content characteristics described in #2, students are meant to have decent grammar, varied sentence structures for good flow, transitions within and between paragraphs, and really great fiction or synonyms.
English teachers: in the event the writing rubrics or grading style don’t typically address these, consider bringing it up in class, assessing for those characteristics on the next essay, or reading over a mentor text that DOES meet this bar (see #4).
4. They have to see examples. I strongly recommend that students head to this connect to not merely read a sample 6/6 essay, but compare it to a 4 or 5 essay to see its differences. When I teach my ACT writing lessons, I do a compare/contrast activity this is exactly why. The stakes are high enough that it is worth groing through a mentor text to see just what the expectations are and debunk the idea that you will never complete.
The conclusion i am tutoring the ACT long enough to identify the differences between the old and new versions, as well as without “teaching to your test”, you can find easy steps educators can take to assist juniors stay at or over the average that is national achieve their college dreams. Using even some of these tips may help students be a bit more ready on test day, and more grateful that they had you as an instructor.