ACT Sample Essays: Tasting Tests
So what have we learned here so far? We know what the ACT Writing Test is and how it's scored. We know some solid strategies for practicing, planning, and writing a top-scoring essay. We know what the test graders want to see and what they don’t want to see. But what does a 6 essay actually look like? What about a (gasp) 1 essay?
Here is a sample essay, which obtained the score 6 (aww yeeah!) and here is the prompt for the Essay
The idea that technology makes the world smaller is a familiar one. Cell phones, text messaging, email, products like Skype, and social networking sites like Facebook connect people and ideas from around the globe. Ten years ago, a social network as complex and omnipresent as Facebook would have been unthinkable; now, especially for young people in developed countries, it's hard to imagine what life would be like without technologies of this kind. But are technologies that allow constant, effortless communication ultimately a good thing? In the debate on whether or not mass communication technology and social networks are beneficial, some people have suggested that we have grown too dependent on these technologies and what they can offer us; we spend every waking moment "plugged in" and online, to the point that we have forgotten how to connect as real individuals. Others argue that these technologies and social networks provide greater communication than ever before and connect people from distant regions of the globe who otherwise never would have met one another, as well as helping like-minded individuals organize into groups and coordinate change for causes that are important to them.
In your essay for the ACT, take a position on this question. You may write about either one of the two points of view given, or you may present a different point of view on this question. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position..
So cleanse your palate, whip out some sparkly clean silverware, and get ready to taste test six different sample dish essays. For once, you are the judge of fine cuisine! OK, “fine” may be an overstatement. Let us warn you that the skill range was um, wide, for these chefs – we’re hoping that you’ll want to spit out some of these portions! At the same time, we are confident that you will recognize a killer dish when you taste one, and you’ll likely realize that your own culinary repertoire could use a hint more flavor and seasoning here and there. Bon appétit!
ACT Sample Essay: Six-Point
Here is the Sample Six-Point ACT Essay for the prompt on the Sample Essays page. We've typed the essay for you below, as well.
Here is the Sample Essay again:
The large amount of technology in our culture raises several fascinating issues, one of which is: where does our virtual existence end and our “real” existence begin? Many people are no longer able to separate their “real” lives from the lives they lead on the Internet. This can damage their relationships with other people as well as their productivity at work or school. Online role-playing games like World of Warcraft or Second Life are perfect examples of this change in our culture. While technology has allowed our society to make great advancements in medicine and education, our reliance on technology is very troubling and needs more attention. I believe that technology, overall, is tending towards a more dangerous path, as seen in people's increasing ability to lose themselves in virtual worlds and detach from reality completely, thus not getting the true human interaction that we need to lead rich and fulfilling lives.
World of Warcraft (or WoW) allows players to become elves, warriors, and magicians, and to fight magic beasts and search for treasure in underground caverns. But apart from its entertainment value, WoW is interesting because it gives people the opportunity to create alternate identities for themselves. Some people become so invested in their WoW character that they forget to do such simple things as eat and sleep. This attitude strikes me as very unhealthy; your virtual life should not be considered more important than your physical life. Moreover, some people spend real money for items that only exist in the game, which could affect their financial stability.
Second Life is an even more fascinating example because it is not a fantasy game. In Second Life, players can do all the things that people do in real life. But they can alter their appearance, even their gender, easily. A very good friend of mine spends so much time on Second Life that she considers it to be her primary life. My friend does not have many people she trusts and values as friends, and I think the reason for this is her dependence on Second Life.
A final example of the amount of time we spend crafting virtual identities is the vast array of social networks from Twitter to Facebook to blogger communities. Many of my peers spend so much time making themselves look like perfect humans on Facebook – coming up with a witty quote or listing the right movies as their favorites, choosing the most attractive profile pictures – that they lose touch with improving themselves in the real world through exercise, fostering relationships with friends and family, and developing hobbies like art, sports, or music. There are blog communities in which hundreds of people comment on posts and "meet" each other virtually, but this is not real life. How much true friendship can one actually glean from a witty back and forth comment thread banter where all you can see of the other person is a little thumbnail that could be a picture of anything? People mistake these virtual interactions for real life ones and develop crushes on each other or friendships without ever actually meeting in person. In my opinion, though interesting, this form of bonding is very limited and lacks a lot of the essential traits of a real friendship or relationship.
Technology is not always bad. After all, I depend on my computer for everything from talking to my friends to researching essays for school. I would not recognize my life without technology, and I believe that very few people (at least in our country) would. Technology is not inherently bad or good; it can be one or the other, or even both at the same time. However, when we start spending more time online than in reality, we run the risk of becoming technology slaves—avatars of ourselves, and this is a point at which technology use crosses the line from a benign activity to an all-consuming virtual addiction.
What does Shmoop has to say about this Essay?
This is a pretty darn impressive essay, especially given the time limit. No spelling or grammatical errors; nice, fluid paragraphs; a strong introduction, thesis statement, and conclusion. This essay also boasts:
- Great examples. Creative, intriguing examples, packed with plenty of detail.
- Interesting word choice and varied sentence structure. This author has obviously done her homework: she's read a lot, she's practiced writing a lot, and she's comfortable using some advanced vocabulary and mixing up the length and structure of her sentences.
- Original approach. Instead of just saying, “Technology is good,” or “Technology is bad,” the author explores some specific changes or challenges she thinks people face due to technology.
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Are you debating whether or not to take the optional ACT essay? Some schools require it, so we highly recommend that you take it (make sure to register for ACT with Writing).
But no need to stress! The essay follows a predictable format, which means you can practice and prepare beforehand. Take a look at a sample ACT writing prompt and learn five key steps to penning a high-scoring essay.
ACT Writing Prompt
This example writing prompt comes straight from our book Cracking the ACT:
Education and the Workplace
Many colleges and universities have cut their humanities departments, and high schools have started to shift their attention much more definitively toward STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and away from ELA (English, Language Arts). Representatives from both school boards and government organizations suggest that the move toward STEM is necessary in helping students to participate in a meaningful way in the American workplace. Given the urgency of this debate for the future of education and society as a whole, it is worth examining the potential consequences of this shift in how students are educated in the United States.
Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each suggests a particular way of thinking about the shift in American education.
|Perspective 1||Perspective 2||Perspective 3|
|ELA programs should be emphasized over STEM programs. Education is not merely a means to employment: ELA education helps students to live more meaningful lives. In addition, an exclusively STEM-based program cannot help but limit students’ creativity and lead them to overemphasize the importance of money and other tangible gains.||ELA programs should be eradicated entirely, except to establish the basic literacy necessary to engage in the hard sciences, mathematics, and business. Reading and writing are activities that are best saved for the leisure of students who enjoy them.||ELA and STEM programs should always be in equal balance with one another. Both are necessary to providing a student with a well-rounded education. Moreover, equal emphasis will allow the fullest possible exposure to many subjects before students choose their majors and careers|
Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the issue of how schools should balance STEM and ELA subjects. In your essay, be sure to:
- analyze and evaluate the perspectives given
- state and develop your own perspective on the issue
- explain the relationship between your perspective and those given
Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.
How to Write the ACT Essay
Your job is to write an essay in which you take some sort of position on the prompt, all while assessing the three perspectives provided in the boxes. Find a way to anchor your essay with a unique perspective of your own that can be defended and debated, and you are already in the upper echelon of scorers.
Step 1: Work the Prompt
What in the prompt requires you to weigh in? Why is this issue still the subject of debate and not a done deal?
Step 2: Work the Perspectives
Typically, the three perspectives will be split: one for, one against, and one in the middle. Your goal in Step 2 is to figure out where each perspective stands and then identify at least one shortcoming of each perspective. For the example above, ask yourself:
- What does each perspective consider?
- What does each perspective overlook?
Step 3: Generate Your Own Perspective
Now it's time to come up with your own perspective! If you merely restate one of the three given perspectives, you won’t be able to get into the highest scoring ranges. You’ll draw from each of the perspectives, and you may side with one of them, but your perspective should have something unique about it.
Step 4: Put It All Together
Now that you have your ideas in order, here's a blueprint for how to organize the ACT essay. This blueprint works no matter what your prompt is.
Body Paragraph (1)
|Body Paragraph (2)|
Step 5: (If There's Time): Proofread
Spend one or two minutes on proofreading your essay if you have time. You’re looking for big, glaring errors. If you find one, erase it completely or cross it out neatly. Though neatness doesn’t necessarily affect your grade, it does make for a happy grader.
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