Writing Test Scores

Taking the ACT with writing will provide you and the schools to which you have ACT report scores with additional scores. You will receive a total of five scores for this test: a single subject-level writing score reported on a range of 2-12, and four domain scores, also 2-12, that are based on an analytic scoring rubric. The subject-level score will be the rounded average of the four domain scores. The four domain scores are: Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and Language Use and Conventions. An image of your essay will be available to your high school and the colleges to which you have ACT report your scores from that test date.

 

Taking the writing test does not affect your subject area scores or your Composite score. However, without a writing test score, no English Language Arts (ELA) score will be reported.

Your essay will be evaluated based on the evidence that it provides of your ability to:

  • clearly state your own perspective on the issue and analyze the relationship between your perspective and at least one other perspective
  • develop and support your ideas with reasoning and examples
  • organize your ideas clearly and logically
  • communicate your ideas effectively in standard written English

Two trained readers will score your essay on a scale of 1-6 in each of the four writing domains. Each domain score represents the sum of the two readers' scores. If the readers' ratings disagree by more than one point, a third reader will evaluate the essay and resolve the discrepancy.

Sample Essays

You might be a little unsure of what to expect from a writing prompt and what kinds of responses score the highest. We took the guesswork out of it and created one sample prompt and six possible responses, ranging from weak to strong, that give you an idea of how to achieve your best score.

Remember that your scores for the four individual domains - ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use and conventions - will be communicated on a scale of 2–12. These domain scores are derived by adding together the individual scores, on a 1–6 scale, from each of two readers.

Scoring Rubric Overview

Scoring your writing test

This analytic scoring rubric presents the standards by which your essay will be evaluated. The following rubric overview will help you to better understand the dimensions of writing that this assessment evaluates.

This task asks you to generate an essay that establishes your own perspective on a given issue and analyzes the relationship between your perspective and at least one other perspective. In evaluating your response, trained readers will use an analytic rubric that breaks the central elements of written argument into four domains: Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and Language Use and Conventions. As you review these domains, think about the role each plays in a written argument that accomplishes its purpose.

Ideas and Analysis—Scores in this domain reflect the ability to generate productive ideas and engage critically with multiple perspectives on the given issue. Competent writers understand the issue they are invited to address, the purpose for writing, and the audience. They generate ideas that are relevant to the situation.

Development and Support—Scores in this domain reflect the ability to discuss ideas, offer rationale, and bolster an argument. Competent writers explain and explore their ideas, discuss implications, and illustrate through examples. They help the reader understand their thinking about the issue.

Organization—Scores in this domain reflect the ability to organize ideas with clarity and purpose. Organizational choices are integral to effective writing. Competent writers arrange their essay in a way that clearly shows the relationship between ideas, and they guide the reader through their discussion.

Language Use and Conventions—Scores in this domain reflect the ability to use written language to convey arguments with clarity. Competent writers make use of the conventions of grammar, syntax, word usage, and mechanics. They are also aware of their audience and adjust the style and tone of their writing to communicate effectively. 

Scoring Rubric

Learn more about how the writing test is scored.

View the Writing Test Scoring Rubric (PDF)