Should You Take the ACT With Writing: Pros, Cons, and How to Decide

Considering taking the ACT with Writing? Explore the pros, cons, and practical tips to help you make an informed decision.

Posted January 10, 2024

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Taking the ACT with Writing is an option for students who are interested in showcasing their writing skills to colleges and universities. However, before making a decision, it is important to carefully evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of this choice. This article aims to help you understand the college requirements for the writing section and provide guidance on making an informed decision about whether or not to take the ACT with Writing.

Benefits & Drawbacks of Taking the ACT With Writing

ACT W/ Writing: Pros

When considering whether or not to take the ACT with Writing, it is essential to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks. A major advantage of taking the writing section is that it allows you to demonstrate your writing skills to colleges. This can be especially beneficial if you are planning to pursue a degree in a field that requires strong writing abilities, such as English or journalism.

Furthermore, many colleges and universities require or recommend taking the ACT with Writing for admission or scholarship consideration. By taking the writing section, you may increase your chances of being accepted into your desired institution or securing scholarships.

Moreover, the writing section of the ACT provides an opportunity for you to showcase your critical thinking and analytical skills. It requires you to analyze a given prompt, develop a clear thesis statement, and support your arguments with relevant evidence. This process not only demonstrates your ability to construct a well-organized essay but also showcases your ability to think critically and communicate effectively.

ACT W/ Writing: Cons

However, there are also drawbacks to taking the ACT with Writing. One major consideration is the additional time required to complete the writing section. The ACT with Writing is approximately three hours and 50 minutes long, while the ACT without Writing is only about three hours and 35 minutes. If time management is a concern for you or if you struggle with the writing process, this extra time may be a significant factor to consider.

In addition, the writing section may require extra preparation and practice. Unlike the other sections of the ACT, which primarily test your knowledge and skills in specific subject areas, the writing section evaluates your ability to construct a well-argued essay. This may require you to familiarize yourself with different essay structures, rhetorical devices, and persuasive techniques. Investing time and effort into developing your writing skills can be beneficial, but it is important to assess whether you have the resources and motivation to do so.

Another potential drawback is the added stress and pressure that comes with the writing section. Writing under time constraints can be challenging, and some students may find it difficult to perform at their best in this situation. It is important to honestly assess your writing abilities and comfort level before deciding to take the ACT with Writing.

Furthermore, it is crucial to consider the scoring and evaluation process of the ACT writing section. The essay is scored by two independent readers who evaluate your essay based on four domains: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use. Each domain is scored on a scale of 2-12, and the two scores are then averaged to give you a final score. Understanding the scoring criteria and practicing writing essays that meet these criteria can help you maximize your score on the writing section.

Read: Best Free Resources to Prepare for the ACT and SAT

College Requirements for ACT Writing

Before making a decision, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements of the colleges or universities you plan to apply to. While some institutions may require the ACT with Writing, others may simply recommend it or not consider it at all. Researching the admission requirements and preferences of your target schools will help you make an informed decision.

In addition to understanding whether or not the writing section is required, you should also consider how it will be evaluated. Some colleges may place significant weight on the writing score, while others may prioritize other sections, such as the math or science sections. By understanding how the writing section is valued by your prospective institutions, you can better assess its importance to your overall application.

When researching college requirements for the writing section, it is important to delve deeper into the reasons behind these requirements. Each institution has its own unique approach to evaluating the writing skills of prospective students. Some colleges believe that strong writing skills are essential for success in all academic disciplines, while others may view it as an indicator of critical thinking abilities.

Furthermore, understanding how the writing section is evaluated can provide valuable insight into the expectations of college admissions officers. Some colleges may focus on the overall structure and organization of the essay, while others may pay more attention to the clarity and coherence of the arguments presented. By familiarizing yourself with the evaluation criteria, you can tailor your preparation and approach to meet the specific requirements of your target schools.

It is also worth considering the role of the writing section in the context of your chosen field of study. While some disciplines may place a greater emphasis on written communication, others may prioritize practical skills or quantitative abilities. By understanding the expectations of your intended major, you can determine whether the writing section holds particular significance for your application.

Moreover, it is important to recognize that the writing section provides an opportunity for you to showcase your unique voice and perspective. Admissions officers are not only interested in evaluating your technical writing skills, but also in gaining insight into your personality, values, and experiences. Therefore, it is crucial to approach the writing section as a chance to express yourself authentically and make a lasting impression on the admissions committee.

Lastly, it is worth noting that the writing section can serve as a valuable tool for self-reflection and personal growth. The process of preparing for this section requires you to think critically, analyze complex issues, and articulate your thoughts effectively. By engaging with the writing section, you can develop and refine your communication skills, which will undoubtedly benefit you throughout your college education and beyond.

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How to Decide if ACT With Writing is Right for You

Now that you have evaluated the benefits and drawbacks of taking the ACT with Writing and understand the requirements of your target colleges, it's time to make a decision. Start by considering your own strengths and weaknesses. Have you consistently excelled in writing-related tasks? Do you feel confident in your ability to write effectively under time pressure? Reflecting on your own skills and comfort level can help guide your decision.

You should also take into account your college and career goals. If you plan to pursue a major that heavily emphasizes writing, such as literature or political science, taking the ACT with Writing may be beneficial in demonstrating your abilities to potential colleges or employers.

However, if writing is not a central aspect of your desired major or career path, or if you struggle with timed writing tasks, it may be worth considering whether the potential benefits outweigh the drawbacks of taking the writing section. Remember, the ACT is only one component of your college application, and there are other ways to showcase your writing skills, such as through essays and writing samples.

Balancing Additional Test Time with Potential Advantages

As mentioned earlier, the writing section adds approximately 15 minutes of test time to the ACT. This additional time can be both a benefit and a challenge. Before making a decision, carefully consider how the extra time will affect your overall test-taking experience and performance. If you believe that the benefits of taking the writing section outweigh the minimal increase in test time, then it may be worth opting for the ACT with Writing.

However, if you have time management concerns or feel that the extra time might negatively impact your performance on other sections of the ACT, it may be more strategic to take the ACT without Writing. Remember, your score on the writing section is separate from your overall ACT score, so choosing to exclude the writing section will not diminish your performance on the other sections.

Considering Your Strengths and College Goals

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to take the ACT with Writing should be based on a careful consideration of your own strengths, weaknesses, and college goals. Take the time to assess your writing abilities, evaluate the requirements of your prospective institutions, and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of taking the writing section.

Remember, the goal of taking the ACT is to present your best self to colleges and universities. If you believe that the writing section will help you achieve this goal and showcase your writing skills, then it may be worth considering. However, if you feel that other aspects of your application, such as your grades or extracurricular activities, better demonstrate your qualifications, then focusing your efforts on those areas may be a more strategic approach.

Ultimately, the decision is yours to make, and it is important to trust your instincts and prioritize what you believe will best serve your college and career aspirations. By carefully considering the pros, cons, and your own individual circumstances, you can make an informed decision about whether or not to take the ACT with Writing.

Read: ACT Game Plan: How to Master Every Section and Concept

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