Tips to score a 12 on your ACT essay

Are you looking for tips to score a 12 on your ACT Essay? Here is an article that gives you tips on how to ace your ACT essay.

Updated by Ipsita Meher on 20th April 2020

Without a debate its well known among students that ACT and SAT are the gateways to a good and renowned college. ACT is an exam which tests your aptitude on Math, English, Science and Reading. Along with this there is another section in ACT which tests your writing skill in the form of an essay. It’s very important to do well in this writing section, it will give them an idea of your life story, personality and your affiliations in life in general and will increase your probability of getting admitted into a reputed college. 

Those who have studied or prepared well, for them multiple choice questions in those four subjects won’t be a challenging task. But where the challenge lies is in the essay writing part. Well, in essay writing everyone tries to get the maximum i.e 12 point score which means a 100 percentile.

Are  there any steps which can be followed to score a 12 percentile? What are some tips that can be followed to score a 12 in ACT essay. Let’s discuss.

What is the ACT Essay?

ACT  essay is a format of evaluating your writing skills by the exam conducting body. ACT essay gives opportunities to students to showcase their ability of how well one can form an essay. According to the ACT conducting body, they look for a unified and coherent essay in your writing. So, here are some do’s of writing ACT essays.

  • Mention and talk about your own perspective in the essay. Give your own opinion as well as talk about the what could be the other perspectives.

  • Talk logic, whatever you write and form your opinions , justify that by datas, facts and figures.

  • Your essay should be coherent, meaning one paragraph of the essay should talk to the second paragraph. There should be continuous flow.

  • Lastly make sure to be grammatically correct and use standard and acceptable English language.

How is the ACT Essay scored?

Well, the ACT Essay is scored on a scale of 1 to 12. Usually ACT essays are scored on a scale of 1 to 6 in two different grades and in four different domains by experts for a total score out of 12. Then the cumulative average of these scores is taken into consideration. Now what is a good score when it comes to ACT essay, a 8 score is considered as a good score. But 12 is the highest and the best score. Many times getting a 12 is not possible in an ACT essay. But with practice and little smart work a 12 score can be achieved.

But the most difficult part in this is that one has to be particular about the time, you have just 40 minutes with you, starting from choosing the topic to writing it in a concrete coherent way is a bit difficult.

Tip 1: Be aware of what a 12 Scored Essay looks like:

Firstly before you start your own preparation for a 12 point scoring essay, make sure that you have some idea of what a 12 point scoring essay is. You can always take reference from different websites and books and look for a 12 scored essay. Eventually after taking a lot of reference and looking and reading a lot of such essays you will get a fair idea of what a 12 scored essay should be like. So just don't start practising without knowing what a 12 scored essay looks like. 

Look in google, search in the internet and you can get some essays which are recent, check for the format as well. Look for some minute details and take a note of all those points that you find attractive. There must be some points in the essay which is extraordinary that's why that is a 12 score rated essay. Make sure you do all these.

You can also go for a comparison test, which will give you a larger prospective and a clear idea. You can go for three sets of essays, i.e high scored essays, middle scored essays and poor scoring essays. Then you will be able to understand what's the difference between all these essays and what makes an essay a 12 grade.

Secondly, understand the tricks, hacks and nuances of writing a 12 graded essay. You must have a fair knowledge of what are the do’s and don'ts of a 12 graded essay.

Tip 2: Take a stand or a perspective and stick to it

According to ACT your essay should have a perspective, your essay should definitely have a perspective. You can also talk about the other perspective but stick to your own perspective. It will help you in fetching high marks. You should also be able to analyse the perspective of your own and any other perspective. 

To make the reader hooked to your essay, you must be able to articulate it perfectly. Try to defend your perspective and weave the lines in support of your own perspective. It hardly matters whether you agree, disagree or are taking the middle ground but what matters is that you should have a perspective. It gives the idea to the scorers that you are someone who has read a lot and who is capable of forming opinions. Based on your prior knowledge, you come out as someone who has a point of view.

It is important to remember that even if you don’t agree with the perspective that you’re writing from a personal level, your essay needs to show that you can effectively argue a point. In addition, make sure to remember to relate your perspective to one of the perspectives provided in the prompt. Be sure to address the counter arguments as well in one of your body paragraphs, using the perspective opposite to your personal perspective to demonstrate your understanding of opposing views.

Tip 3: Don't forget to give Examples

Next point which is to be noted and taken into consideration is that you cannot afford to talk in the air or anything which just comes to your mind. People believe or trust your words only when it has a strong base. So fill your essay with solid and concrete examples, facts and datas. You can also talk about some personal experience, but make sure that it seems realistic. You can always relate your essay to some past events or historic events which will help in making a positive impression in front of the evaluator.

Take a look at the ways in which the writers of sample essays that scored a 12 managed to seamlessly incorporate examples into their writing. While you don’t have to be an expert on the essay topic, nor are you expected to be able to list off obscure facts and trivia about it, you need to make sure that your essay draws from real concrete examples rather than just vague abstract arguments.

Tip 4: Prove your language skills through this essay

Another judgement criteria which will set your essay apart from others is your ability to communicate your thoughts fluently, i.e your word power or your vocabulary. All successful ACT writers fill their essay with their strong vocabulary, this doesn't mean that unnecessarily you have to stuff your essay with difficult words. All those words have to be  proper and relevant to the content that you are writing. 

During your preparation, you can always focus on learning one or two new words daily which will help you in increasing your vocabulary. But only knowing those words won’t help. You have to know the subtle art of storytelling and forming amazing sentences. Language is not just about words; it's an art. The same sentence can be written in four different formats, you have to know what is the best for your essay. 

Lastly, be sure to keep it real in your writing. While scorers want to see students who are skilled in their use of the english language, it is easy to tell when someone is simply trying to electrify their vocabulary in order to titillate the reader for the written examination. Your writing and tone should reflect who you are as a writer, so remember to keep it down to earth.

Tip 5: Make sure to check your clock

Now what if everything is perfect: your writing, your articulation, your perspective, your vocabulary but if you fail to finish it on time. Then?  Well, yes time comes into picture here. Whatever may happen you cannot afford to take more than 40 minutes to complete your essay. Within this 40 minutes you have to plan your essay, design it and then pen it. So the hack here is pre think. Set a time limit for each of the sections, planning, designing and writing and stick to the time you have allotted for yourself.

Since the essay is the last section after completing the multiple choice questions of the ACT exam, many students have lost half of their energy and mental strength by that time. But you have to be prepared and ready for the exam keeping in mind that you still have an essay to finish and you can't afford to score less in this section. So, make sure you remain energetic and well spirited throughout your exam.

So, don't sit continuously for long long hours in the same place, utilise your breaks, take a break, drink juice, eat something and give yourself a boost for the next sessions of examination. By doing this you will not lose your stamina and eventually you will successfully complete your exam.