The New “Optional” Writing Test
So let’s get straight to the big news. Beginning in February
2005, the ACT will offer what they are calling their “optional”
Writing Test, placed at the end of the exam. The ACT Writing Test
will present an issue pertinent to high school students and then
ask examinees to describe their opinion on the issue. Students can
write their essay in support of one of the given perspectives or
develop their own unique perspective based on their personal experience.
They will have 30 minutes.
The existing exam will remain unchanged, and
even the scoring, for the most part, will stay the same. But the
ACT felt pressure from colleges and universities, and probably from
the SAT, too, to provide a “direct measure” of an applicant’s writing
ability on a specific topic within a specific period of time. And
so the “optional” writing test was born.
Optional, you say? Yes, optional, but make sure you read
the fine print closely: The test is optional in the sense that institutions
have the option of requiring it. You might not necessarily have
the option of not taking it. The only way for you to get out of
taking the Writing Test is to know well in advance that you won’t
be applying to a school that requires it for admission. If there’s
even a chance that you’ll want to apply to a school that requires the
writing test, then you should spend the extra 30 minutes taking
it. However, you can take the writing test separately at a later
time if you’ve already taken the ACT and want to apply to a school
that requires a writing score. Either way, this book will show you
how to ace the new Writing Test. Check out the new chapter at the
end of the English Review.