Should You Take the ACT Optional Writing Test?

Let’s face it: testing for 3 hours on a Saturday is nobody’s idea of a good time, and the option of skipping a section on a test can be pretty appealing. So why should you take the ACT Writing test if they give you the choice to opt out of it? Here are several reasons why we think you should spend the extra 40 minutes and just do it:

  1. Many colleges require it. Although the ACT Writing test is technically optional, many colleges and universities actually require or recommend that you take it. To see if the school you are applying to is one that requires it, go here.

  2. Your plans may change. You may be super confident that you will be applying to (and get accepted by) a school that does not require the Writing test… and then end up wanting to attend a completely different school that does require it. Whether you are applying to just one school or 50, plans change, and it’s best to cover all your bases while you’re still in the college application mindset.

  3. It can help you stand out. Unlike the rest of the ACT, your response on the Writing test is unique to you, so this is your chance to shine! You will be evaluated on your English composition and reasoning skills, so if you’re great at writing, opting to challenge the essay could nudge you above the rest. Even if your school does not require the essay, they will evaluate it if you do take it, so it can help give them a fuller picture of your strengths and abilities.

  4. As far as essays go, it’s not that bad. The Writing test essay is not the 15-page research thesis you had to write for your evil Biology teacher. You will be presented with a contemporary issue, offered three perspectives on that issue, asked to evaluate those perspectives, develop your own perspective, and analyze the relationship between the three perspectives and your own. You will even be given guidance and a framework for planning, so you can organize your thoughts before you begin writing. Now, this isn’t to say this essay will be easy or that you shouldn’t prepare for this style of writing in advance, but as far as essays go, you’ve likely survived much, much worse.

  5. Do you really want to take the whole thing again later? Oops, you suddenly discovered you need to take the Writing test. Bad news, my friend, you can’t just take one ACT section at a time, you have to take the whole thing over again. You never know what curve balls life will throw at you, so it’s best to just pay the extra $17 for the essay test the first time around, and save yourself the chance of another 3-hour ACT extravaganza down the road.

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