Writing

Note:

  • Scores below 3 do not permit useful generalizations about students’ writing abilities.
  • Updates to the Standards in 2014 include edits for consistency, concision, and clarity.
  • Side-by-side comparisons of the 2014 ACT College and Career Readiness Standards and the 2005 ACT College Readiness Standards can be seen by selecting “View changes.” In the popup windows, each standard is identified by a strand abbreviation and number. For example, the first standard in Expressing Judgments (EXJ) is EXJ 201.

View or print the set of Writing Standards (PDF, 5 pages)

  Score Range
3–4
Score Range
5–6
Score Range
7–8
Score Range
9–10
Score Range
11–12
Expressing Judgments (EXJ)

EXJ 201. Show a little understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task but neglect to take or to maintain a position on the issue in the prompt

EXJ 202. Generate reasons for a position that are irrelevant or unclear

EXJ 301. Show a basic understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt

EXJ 302. Generate reasons for a position that are vague or simplistic; show a little recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by

  • briefly noting implications and/or complications of the issue, and/or
  • briefly or unclearly responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position

EXJ 401. Show clear understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the issue in the prompt and offering some context for discussion

EXJ 402. Generate reasons for a position that are relevant and clear; show some recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by

  • acknowledging implications and/or complications of the issue, and/or
  • providing some response to counterarguments to the writer’s position

EXJ 501. Show strong understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue in the prompt and offering a broad context for discussion

EXJ 502. Generate thoughtful reasons for a position; show recognition of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by

  • partially evaluating implications and/or complications of the issue, and/or
  • anticipating and responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position

EXJ 601. Show advanced understanding of the persuasive purpose of the task by taking a position on the specific issue in the prompt and offering a critical context for discussion

EXJ 602. Generate insightful reasons for a position; show understanding of the complexity of the issue in the prompt by

  • examining different perspectives, and/or
  • evaluating implications and/or complications of the issue, and/or
  • anticipating and fully responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position
Focusing on the Topic (FOC)

FOC 201. Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout most of the essay

FOC 301. Maintain a focus on the general topic in the prompt throughout the essay

FOC 401. Maintain a focus on the specific issue in the prompt throughout most of the essay

FOC 402. Present a thesis that establishes focus on the topic

FOC 501. Maintain a focus on discussing the specific issue in the prompt throughout the essay

FOC 502. Present a thesis that establishes a focus on the writer’s position on the issue

FOC 601. Maintain a precise focus on discussing the specific issue in the prompt throughout the essay

FOC 602. Present a critical thesis that clearly establishes the focus on the writer’s position on the issue

  Score Range
3–4
Score Range
5–6
Score Range
7–8
Score Range
9–10
Score Range
11–12
Developing Ideas (DEV)

DEV 201. Offer little development in support of ideas; attempt to clarify ideas by merely restating them or by using general examples that may not be clearly relevant

DEV 202. Show little or no movement between general and specific ideas and examples

DEV 301. Offer limited development in support of ideas; clarify ideas somewhat with vague explanation and the use of general examples

DEV 302. Show little movement between general and specific ideas and examples

DEV 401. Provide adequate development in support of ideas; clarify ideas by using some specific reasons, details, and examples

DEV 402. Show some movement between general and specific ideas and examples

DEV 501. Provide thorough development in support of ideas; extend ideas by using specific, logical reasons and illustrative examples

DEV 502. Show clear movement between general and specific ideas and examples

DEV 601. Provide ample development in support of ideas; substantiate ideas with precise use of specific, logical reasons and illustrative examples

DEV 602. Show effective movement between general and specific ideas and examples

Organizing Ideas (ORI)

ORI 201. Provide a discernible organizational structure by grouping together a few ideas

ORI 202. Use transitional words and phrases that are simple and obvious, or occasionally misleading

ORI 203. Present a minimal introduction and conclusion

ORI 301. Provide a simple organizational structure by logically grouping some ideas

ORI 302. Use simple and obvious transitional words and phrases

ORI 303. Present an underdeveloped introduction and conclusion

ORI 401. Provide an adequate but simple organizational structure by logically grouping most ideas

ORI 402. Use some appropriate transitional words and phrases

ORI 403. Present a somewhat developed introduction and conclusion

ORI 501. Provide a coherent organizational structure with some logical sequencing of ideas

ORI 502. Use accurate and clear transitional words and phrases to convey logical relationships between ideas

ORI 503. Present a generally well-developed introduction and conclusion

ORI 601. Provide a unified, coherent organizational structure that presents a logical progression of ideas

ORI 602. Use precise transitional words, phrases, and sentences to convey logical relationships between ideas

ORI 603. Present a well-developed introduction that effectively frames the prompt’s issue and writer’s argument; present a well-developed conclusion that extends the essay’s ideas

  Score Range
3–4
Score Range
5–6
Score Range
7–8
Score Range
9–10
Score Range
11–12
Using Language (USL)

USL 201. Show limited control of language by

  • correctly employing some of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics, but with distracting errors that sometimes significantly impede understanding
  • choosing words that are simplistic or vague
  • using only simple sentence structure

USL 301. Show a basic control of language by

  • correctly employing some of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics, but with distracting errors that sometimes impede understanding
  • choosing words that are simple but generally appropriate
  • using a little sentence variety

USL 401. Show adequate use of language to communicate by

  • correctly employing many of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics, but with some distracting errors that may occasionally impede understanding
  • choosing words that are appropriate
  • using some varied kinds of sentence structures to vary pace

USL 501. Show competent use of language to communicate ideas by

  • correctly employing most conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics, with a few distracting errors but none that impede understanding
  • generally choosing words that are precise and varied
  • using several kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning

USL 601. Show effective use of language to communicate ideas clearly by

  • correctly employing most conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics, with just a few, if any, errors
  • consistently choosing words that are precise and varied
  • using a variety of kinds of sentence structures to vary pace and to support meaning
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
 

20131001