ACT Write: Example Essays and Their Scores (page 5)
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.
3 — Still Finding Yourself on the Wrong Side of the Tracks
In my opinion, kids should not have a uniform because it takes away freedoms that they should have. There are some clothing styles that teenagers wear that are not appropriate like tight revealing clothes. But to make students buy certain clothes like blue pants and white shirt infringes on their rights.
In America freedom of expression is very important and by forcing us to wear certain things schools are taking away one of our rights. If they start taking away this right, they might start taking away other ones too.
Uniforms are unfair because some families cannot afford them. Many kids would need a whole new wardrobe and their families would have a hard time buying this for them. Not only would they need clothes, but they also need clothes for outside of school. For poorer families this would be hard.
A uniform would take away some of our freedom of expression and it would be a financial strain for poorer families. I think that there should be no uniforms.
A 3 is almost a reason for celebration. Almost. This writer answers the question, gives reasons to support her ideas, and advances her argument. The essay maintains a semblance of structure. She presents a clear point of view with two supporting points that address the language presented in the prompt. Her sentences are more complex than the ones written by most eighth-graders, and she presents a clear conclusion that sums up her points.
However, she's still hanging around on the wrong side of the tracks. The ACT folks are starting to recognize her developing skill, but she still has room for improvement. Her essay would be better if she included a discussion of the counterargument and more fully developed her ideas. Her paragraphs aren't complete, and she doesn't include transitions to link her ideas and increase the essay's flow. Plus, she makes numerous punctuation mistakes. With a little work, this essay could make it to the right side of the tracks.
4 —Reaching 4 a Better Score
I believe that it would be a good idea for our schools to adopt uniforms. Some people argue that it would restrict student's freedom of expression, but I do not agree with this position. It is important that we have a right to express ourselves, but our society does not allow us to have unrestricted freedoms like this all the time. It is important to learn discipline, show respect for other's feelings and learn how to be successful operating in the real world. School uniforms create a better learning environment and also helps students prepare for their futures.
The most important benefit of imposing dress codes would be creating a better school environment. Students who are trying to concentrate and learn would be unfocused because of inappropriate clothing. Small clothing, tight tops, and sagging pants might be okay for after school but not appropriate for the classroom. Certain types of people might find profanity and obscene images offensive. Art and creative writing are better ways to express your creativity rather than on your clothing. Less distractions in the classroom would help a student to get a better education.
Another important benefit of having uniforms would teach students how to dress properly for different occasions. Clothes that you would wear to a party would not be appropriate for a dinner with your boyfriends parents. Likewise, you wouldn't wear your work clothes on a date. Some jobs in society require people to wear uniforms. Uniforms in schools help students to realize what the world is like and get ready to enter it.
Another important concern for students is trying to fit in. Uniforms take the emphasis off what you look like and put more emphasis on learning. In conclusion, it is important for schools to require uniforms. Getting an education is the most important thing about school and uniforms take away distractions. Learning how to dress for the real world is also important. And it helps with the pressures of trying to fit in.
A score of 4 would make anyone want to run and frolic through green pastures because the ACT folks think you have adequate writing skills. You may not be the best, but at least you're average and your score is respectable. This writer takes a stance and acknowledges counterarguments. He maintains focus throughout the essay, and he supports each idea in the well-defined paragraphs with specific examples to make the graders happy. This writer demonstrates a simple organizational structure that works; it properly includes an introduction that sets up what the writer talks about in the body paragraphs and a conclusion that sums up his points without word-for-word repetition. This essay shows that the writer has learned adequate writing skills in school, even though he hasn't mastered perfect punctuation or impeccable word choice. On the second paragraph, less distractions should be fewer distractions, and switching back and forth between third and second person isn't stylistically pleasing).
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.