When you prepare for your ACT exam, you’ll learn the essay portion of the test is optional. Because of this, you might ask yourself, does ACT writing matter? And decide not to invest your time in it. But don’t decide to skip the essay just yet. Here are a few important points to consider first.

What Is the ACT Essay?

The ACT essay is a handwritten essay that comprises the final section of the ACT test. Rather than being scored on right or wrong answers, the ACT essay is scored on a rubric. The purpose of the essay is to measure your ability to write about a controversial topic in a way that shows you can:

  • Examine a topic thoroughly
  • Consider different arguments
  • Present evidence in a cogent manner

To start the essay process, you will be provided with three responses to the essay prompt. You’ll be expected to argue the strengths and weaknesses of each one. Finally, you will have an opportunity to write your own response to the prompt that reflects your personal thoughts on the topic. The entire essay portion takes 40 minutes.

Do Colleges Read Your Essay?

If the admissions team at your college of choice wants to, they can read your essay. They’ll be provided with a scanned version of your handwritten essay for review. In reality, this doesn’t happen very often. Instead, most schools simply review your essay score.

How do you know what your college is going to do? You can contact them and simply ask. Many also publish this information on their website. Head to the admissions page and you should be able to find out.

Why Write an Essay If Most Colleges Don’t Read It?

Not many schools take the time to read your handwritten essay, but they do consider your overall essay scores. Schools can compare these with other applicants to see how your writing stacks up. 

Additionally, they may see how your score tracks with other evidence of your writing ability. For example, if your junior English grade is only a C, you can counterbalance that with an excellent score on your essay.

Does Your Essay Score Matter?

That depends on the school. For those that do look at your essay score or even read your essay, you should assume that it is at least somewhat important. However, chances are it simply doesn’t carry as much weight as the other parts of the ACT test. 

Remember that colleges and universities may assign their own essay questions or have you select a prompt from the common application.

Does ACT Writing Matter Then?

That depends. If you want to max out your ACT results, are applying to competitive schools, and are a confident writer then you should write the essay. For mid-tier schools, go ahead and write the essay without getting too stressed out over it. But if you know your school of choice simply doesn’t consider it, just focus on the rest of the ACT.

ACT Writing Help with Jantzi

Whether you decide to take the essay portion of your ACT or not, Jantzi can help. We offer tutoring services to help you achieve a better score. Contact us for more information about tutoring and testing assistance.