ACT Write: Example Essays and Their Scores (page 3)

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

5 — Shining Brightly: A 5-star Winner

There is a debate now amongst parents and teachers about whether or not a uniform should be used in schools. I agree with the position that believes that uniforms will improve the learning environment in our schools. I think a dress code would significantly improve the excellence of our education. First, students would be able to focus on academics rather than the social facet of school. Second, the appearance of the school would improve and third, students would be better prepared for the working world.

The most crucial benefit of requiring uniforms would be to significantly reduce the distractions in the classroom. For students to be successful in the future it is important that we concentrate on the material being taught in the classroom. It is difficult to do this when you overhear students whispering about their newest Gucci purse or admiring their best friend's Prada shoes. Young people place such an emphasis on style and image rather than substance. In addition, students see school as a social venue rather than a learning environment.

Secondly, if the students and faculty are well groomed I believe that it improves the aesthetic appeal of the school. Formal attire is not necessary to achieve this. For example, requiring long pants and a collared shirt would be sufficient. Not only would the school look more professional, it would change the character of the school. Holding students to a higher standard would require them to do it for themselves. It would improve their maturity level as well.

Finally, sporting uniforms would prepare today's youth for the work of their future. A plethora of jobs require uniforms or a standard dress code. I think it is important for schools to not only prepare students academically for their future, but also in proper conduct and grooming. Just because someone has impressive qualifications doesn't mean they'll be hired if they look like they just rolled in from the beach. Allowing students to dress however they choose might eventually be harmful to their future success.

The opposing view feels that a dress code would hinder a student's freedom of expression, but I still think a dress code is a good idea. A dress code addresses the important issues at hand while at the same time allowing the student to find more appropriate ways of expression. It would be different if you could not paint or write creativity the way you chose in school because that would affect your freedom of expression.

In conclusion, I strongly support the idea of a dress code. Not only does it improve our learning environment but it also improves the character of the school and readies the student for a successful future.

A score of 5 gets you a gold star on the blackboard! It isn't ACT perfection, but it's pretty darn close. This writer is able to effectively address the issue by clearly answering the question and by addressing the counterargument. She presents a well-organized and fluid essay with a variety of specific examples. She develops the ideas in each paragraph and uses them to support her argument. This writer explores a cultural component that shows advanced critical-thinking skills and displays a mastery of vocabulary and precise word choice. Some problems with sentence structure and changing from third to second person within the same sentence keep it from receiving a perfect score, though.

6 — Unlocking the Code to a Perfect Score

The trend of inappropriate dress in our schools is causing alarm in our parents and educators. This population argues that wearing inappropriate clothes is distracting in the classroom and interferes with the learning environment. They believe that requiring uniforms would provide a reasonable solution to the problem. Although those opposed to uniforms believe that a dress code would hinder the student's freedom of expression, I believe that the advantages far outweigh this potential disadvantage.

When freedom of expression begins to interfere with appropriate and clear education in the classroom, we have a serious dilemma and the issue needs to be addressed. The current lack of a dress code is not working. We are not breaking new ground when we suggest that the fashion that is spewed upon our youth in the mass media is riddled with sexual undertones. Examples can be seen in every teen magazine, youth-oriented television program, and in the most popular music videos. Further, clothing that advertisers would consider benign, stimulates and raises the hormone levels of every young male, which can be very distracting in the classroom. The only solution to help create an environment where learning takes precedence is to adopt school uniforms. Obviously, a uniform policy would be easier to enforce then a dress code and would bring many advantages to the entire academic population.

First and foremost, uniforms would help students to fight the materialistic world's values. Our society feels that designer labels, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Hilfinger, create self-worth and that without these, a person is open to cruel comments and non-acceptance. Many students cannot afford to "buy" their self-worth and are required to rise above the standards our society and media feeds them. As a teenager, acceptance is the most crucial aspect of their daily lives, and school uniforms take away the financial burden that our society imposes upon them. Although uniforms must be purchased, this is a minimal financial burden compared to overly high-priced current designer wear that students ask for.

Uniforms could also help curb gang related violence that occurs in many of our nation's schools. Specific colors, logos, and signs have been adopted into the lifestyle of gang members and each carries its own significance. What was once an ordinary red shirt could now be considered an intentional bullet fired in a gang battle. Uniforms decrease the division lines between gangs, as well as protect students who are ignorant to the unwritten laws that govern gangs.

For myself, uniforms would dramatically decrease the amount of time I spend preparing for my day. No longer would I need to delve into the bottom of my closet to find an outfit that I haven't worn this week. I do not need to worry that my best friends might come to school in the same outfit as I, because uniforms ensure that they will! Uniforms give me extra time to finish the homework I haven't done rather than spend time worrying about my wardrobe.

Those who argue that uniforms prevent creative expression are limiting their notion of creativity to fashion. There are many other ways to express creativity. In fact, requiring uniforms may actually encourage freedom of expression. Without the distraction created by questionable clothing, students may be better able to express themselves in art class, through scientific research, and with literary exploits. Uniforms help to ensure a learning environment that is free from distractions and fosters creative expression in areas that are important.

I highly value the worth of uniforms and feel they should be enforced throughout the entire school district. Solving problems in the entire district would help ensure a safer community, save money, encourage better learning, and give students a little extra time in the morning.

The secret to your success on the ACT is a 6, and with an essay like this, you can earn it. The ACT graders are practically drooling over this writer's style, because it recognizes the complexity of the issue, creates a clear thesis, and then supports it with well-thought-out and varied examples. The writer argues his side well and includes arguments from opposing points of view. His structure and organization is logical, and he includes transitions between his paragraphs. His writing displays his own unique wit and personality, and he concludes his essay with a reference to an anecdote in a prior paragraph. Given the time limits, this essay is nearly perfect. The occasional misplaced comma and misspelling of Hilfiger won't concern the graders.

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