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ACT Write: Example Essays and Their Scores

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Dec 21, 2011

The ACT essay receives a score from 1 to 6. The lowest score you can achieve is — get this — a 1, and a 6 is the highest score. One of the best ways to avoid the common mistakes associated with receiving the lower scores is to read examples of all possible scores, which is where this section comes into play. Here we explain what you need to do to get the highest possible score on your essay by beginning with an example of an essay worthy of each score and then explaining why the sample deserves that particular score. Feel free to laugh at the ones with lower scores. We did. After reading these examples, you'll have a much better idea of what to avoid in your writing.

Here's the long-winded ACT prompt that all six of the sample essays were based on:

In some high schools, many teachers and parents have encouraged the school to require school uniforms that students must wear to school. Some teachers and parents support school uniforms because they think their use will improve the school's learning environment. Other teachers and parents do not support requiring uniforms because they think it restricts individual freedom of expression. In your opinion, should high schools require uniforms for students?

In your essay, take a position on the question. You may write about either one of the two points of view given, or you may present a different point of view on this question. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Remember that it doesn't matter which side you choose to write about. Picking one or the other won't matter in the ACT graders' eyes. All that matters is that you pick one side and support your opinion.

1 — 1 is the Loneliest Number: How Not to be a 1

I think students should have uniforms. There is a lot of gangsters at my school that where there pants to low and I don't really like it. If we had to where uniforms they wouldn't be allowed to do it. Girls should be able to wear shirts that show their stomach though since it looks good and everyone else likes it. There should also be a uniform against really stupid fashion. This should be imposed on teachers too. And principles. I think this is only fair. Why should we have to be the only ones who who have to have a uniform.

Being number 1 may be great for high school football, but it isn't great on your ACT test. This writer answers the question and chooses a side, but she doesn't support or back up her thesis. Not only does she fail to support her position, but she also goes off on a tangent and wanders throughout the essay. Her lack of focus, irreverent examples, and writing style merit a 1. Oh, and by the way, the number of spelling and word errors distracts the reader from her ideas and negatively influences the way the graders look at her essay.

2 — 2 Little 2 late: Steering Clear of Coming in Second

I don't agree with the teachers and parents who think we should have uniforms. Our style of dress is what makes us individuals and sets us apart form each other.

At my school students who dress in certain ways find others who are like them. You always know who is interested in the same stuff as you by what they wear. Imposing a uniform doesn't allow us to make friendships with people you are like ourselves.

Uniforms would make people mad. Teachers would find it hard to control all their students because students would want to rebel. Kids wouldn't be able to find friends who are like them and this would cause them to rebel.

These are just a few reasons why we should not have a uniform at school. There are many more reasons then just these but these are the most important.

To ACT graders, a 2 means you show weak skill in writing the essay. At least they think you have some sort of skill, but you can definitely improve it. This writer answers the question and shows that he can support his point of view, but his lack of organization leaves readers' heads spinning. The writer has paragraph structure in this essay, with an introductory para graph and conclusion, but he's missing clear transitions between the two body paragraphs. His simple sentence structure lets everyone know that his writing skills may not be as high as they should be. A 2 may be better than a 1, but it isn't a score you should strive for.

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