Want a Winning ACT Essay? Get Creative. Be Specific. Tell YOUR Story!

The problem with the 30 minute ACT persuasive essay question is that students cannot do “research” before writing in order to bring in new, interesting points to prove their thesis. Almost all of the essays develop similar ideas and thus a student’s response does not stand out. If a student does not shine then he/she will receive an average essay score. Since your goal, though, is to shine, be as specific as possible. Do not be afraid to bring yourself into the essay. In other words, use your personal experiences to enhance your essay and pull your reader in. Most essays express generalizations, not specifics, so be specific! See the examples below:

Question: “Should community service be mandatory in high school?”

Weak Answer – Community service helps broaden students’ awareness. It also helps the community. And it teaches kids Blah, Blah,Blah….

Strong Answer – Community service broadens students’ awareness. There is only so much a student can learn in the classroom. By volunteering in the community, students can learn how other people live. For example, I learned a lot about 1950’s photography when I volunteered at a retirement home. The residents would…

So, don’t be afraid to bring in your experiences. This will make your paper specific and DIFFERENT. Specifics create the necessary sparkle!

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