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Writing College and Career Readiness Standards

These Standards describe what students who score in specific score ranges on the writing section of the ACT® college readiness assessment are likely to know and be able to do.

Note: Scores below 3 do not permit useful generalizations about students’ writing abilities.

View or print the set of Writing Standards (PDF, 5 pages) and Writing Curriculum Review Worksheets (PDF, 5 pages).

 

 

Score Range 3-4

Score Range 5-6

Score Range 7-8

Score Range 9-10

Score Range 11-12

Ideas and Analysis
(I&A)

I&A 201. Understanding the task and writing with purpose

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Generate a thesis that is unclear or not
    entirely related to the given issue
  • Respond weakly to other perspectives on
    the issue

I&A 202. Analyzing critical elements of an issue
and differing perspectives on it

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Provide
    analysis that is incomplete or largely irrelevant

I&A 301. Understanding the task and writing with purpose

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Generate a somewhat clear thesis that establishes a perspective on a contemporary issue 
  • Respond to other perspectives on the issue

I&A 302. Analyzing critical elements of an issue and differing perspectives on it

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Establish a limited or tangential context for analysis
  • Provide analysis that is simplistic or somewhat unclear

I&A 401. Understanding the task and writing with purpose

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Generate a clear thesis that establishes a perspective on a contemporary issue
  • Engage with other perspectives on the issue

I&A 402. Analyzing critical elements of an issue and differing perspectives on it

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Establish and employ a relevant context for analysis
  • Recognize implications, complexities and tensions, and/or underlying values and assumptions

I&A 501. Understanding the task and writing with purpose

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Generate a precise thesis that establishes a perspective on a contemporary issue 
  • Engage productively with other perspectives on the issue

I&A 502. Analyzing critical elements of an issue and differing perspectives on it

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Establish and employ a thoughtful context for analysis
  • Address implications, complexities and tensions, and/or underlying values and assumptions

I&A 601. Understanding the task and writing with purposeA score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Generate a nuanced, precise thesis that establishes a perspective on a contemporary issue 
  • Engage critically with other perspectives on the issue

I&A 602. Analyzing critical elements of an issue and differing perspectives on it

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Establish and employ an insightful context for analysis
  • Examine implications, complexities and tensions, and/or underlying values and assumptions

Development and Support (D&S)

D&S 201. Building and strengthening the argument

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Arrive at a weak understanding of the issue and differing perspectives on it through inadequate reasoning and examples
  • Offer a rationale that fails to clarify the argument
  • Provide elaboration of ideas and analysis that is illogical, disjointed, or circular 

D&S 301. Building and strengthening the argument

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make use of mostly relevant reasoning and examples to support the thesis and arrive at a general or simplistic understanding of the issue 
  • Offer a rationale that largely clarifies the argument
  • Provide elaboration of ideas and analysis that is somewhat repetitive or imprecise

D&S 401. Building and strengthening the argument

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make use of clear reasoning and examples to arrive at an understanding of the issue and differing perspectives on it
  • Adequately convey reasons why the argument is worth considering
  • Extend ideas and analysis by considering factors that complicate the writer’s own perspective
  • Anticipate objections by qualifying the argument

D&S 501. Building and strengthening the argument

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make purposeful use of reasoning and examples to support the thesis and arrive at a deeper understanding of the issue  
  • Capably convey reasons why the argument is worth considering 
  • Enrich ideas and analysis by considering factors that complicate the writer’s own perspective
  • Anticipate objections by qualifying the argument

D&S 601. Building and strengthening the argument

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make skillful use of reasoning and examples to broaden the context for analysis, support the thesis, and arrive at deeper insight into the issue
  • Effectively convey reasons why the argument is worth considering
  • Enrich and strengthen ideas and analysis by considering factors that complicate the writer’s own perspective
  • Anticipate objections by qualifying the argument

Organization (ORG)

ORG 201. Grouping and connecting ideas

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Group ideas with little consistency or clarity
  • Use misleading and poorly formed transitions

ORG 202. Employing an organizational strategy

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Provide a minimal organizational structure in which some ideas are grouped locally

ORG 301. Grouping and connecting ideas

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Group most ideas logically
  • Use transitions between and within paragraphs to clarify some relationships among ideas

ORG 302. Employing an organizational strategy

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Provide a basic organizational structure

ORG 401. Grouping and connecting ideas

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Group and sequence ideas logically
  • Use transitions between and within paragraphs to clarify relationships among ideas

ORG 402.  Employing an organizational strategy

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make use of an emergent controlling idea or purpose to shape the argument

ORG 501. Grouping and connecting ideas

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Group and sequence ideas logically to increase the effectiveness of the argument 
  • Use transitions between and within paragraphs to consistently clarify relationships among ideas

ORG 502. Employing an organizational strategy   

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make use of a controlling idea or purpose to unify the argument

ORG 601. Grouping and connecting ideas

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Group and sequence ideas logically, creating a progression that increases the effectiveness of the argument
  • Use transitions between and within paragraphs to strengthen the relationships among ideas

ORG 602. Employing an organizational strategy 

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make use of a controlling idea or purpose to unify and focus the argument

Language Use and Conventions (L&C)

L&C 201. Using language to enhance meaning

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make word choices that are rudimentary and frequently imprecise
  • Make stylistic choices, including voice, tone, and diction, that are inconsistent and are not always appropriate for the given writing purpose and topic

L&C 202. Applying the conventions of standard written English

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Compose sentences that sometimes have clear structures 
  • Produce writing that has distracting errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics and only sometimes conveys meaning clearly

L&C 301. Using language to enhance meaning 

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

Make word choices that are general and occasionally imprecise 

Make stylistic choices, including voice, tone, and diction, that are not always appropriate for the given writing purpose and topic

L&C 302. Applying the conventions of standard written English

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Compose sentences that usually have clear structures but show little variety
  • Produce writing that has distracting errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics but, in most instances, conveys meaning clearly

L&C 401. Using language to enhance meaning 

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make adequate word choices that convey the argument with clarity 
  • Make stylistic choices, including voice, tone, and diction, that are appropriate for the given writing purpose and topic

L&C 402.  Applying the conventions of standard written English

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

Compose sentences with clear and occasionally varied structures 

Produce writing that has errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics but conveys meaning clearly

L&C 501. Using language to enhance meaning

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Make precise word choices that work in service of the argument
  • Make stylistic choices, including voice, tone, and diction, that are effective for the given writing purpose and topic

L&C 502. Applying the conventions of standard written English

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Compose sentences with clear and often varied structures 
  • Produce writing that has only minor errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

L&C 601. Using language to enhance meaning

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

Make skillful and precise word choices that enhance the argument

Make stylistic choices, including voice, tone, and diction, that are strategic and effective for the given writing purpose and topic

L&C 602. Applying the conventions of standard written English

A score in this range indicates that the writer is able to:

  • Compose sentences with clear and consistently varied structures
  • Produce writing that is free of all but a few minor errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics

Ideas for Progress
Score Range 1–2

Ideas for Progress
Score Range 3–4

Ideas for Progress
Score Range 5–6

Ideas for Progress
Score Range 7–8

Ideas for Progress
Score Range 9–10