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Build Your Writing Skills

Some colleges will soon require students to complete a writing test as part of their college entrance exams. Even if you aren’t required to take a writing test, you need strong writing skills to succeed in college and the workplace.   

Ways to strengthen your writing skills for the ACT Writing Test:

  • Read and write frequently.
    Read as much as you can from a variety of sources, including plays, essays, fiction, poetry, news stories, business writing and magazine features.
  • Practice writing in different formats and in as many real situations as possible.
    Write letters to the editor, or letters to a company requesting information. Writing e-mail is good practice, but realize that writing for school and business is usually more formal than e-mail to a friend.
  • Share your writing with others to get feedback.
    Feedback helps you to look at your writing from a reader’s point of view—to anticipate how readers might interpret your writing and what types of questions they might have. 
  • Become familiar with current issues and develop your own opinions.
    Think of arguments you would use to convince someone of your opinion. Speech and debate classes can help you think through issues and communicate your thoughts to others.  
  • Try some extracurricular writing.
    School newspapers, yearbooks and creative writing clubs offer opportunities to express ideas in writing.
  • Strive for your writing to be well-developed and well-organized.
    Use precise, clear and concise language. The Writing Test will be judged by these criteria, not by creativity or the use of a large vocabulary.
  • Learn to see writing as a process.
    Brainstorming, planning, writing and then editing. This applies to all writing activities. During the Writing Test, spend time planning what you will write. Also, since the Writing Test is only 30 minutes, don't plan to write a rough draft and re-copy it. 
  • Remember that everyone can improve writing skills. 
    You might think others are more talented, but you know more than you think. Confidence and skill will grow with the more writing you do. Practice and work lead to achievement.

 To find out if the college you’re interested in will require a writing test, go to ACT’s website (link to http://actrs19.act.org/app3/writPrefRM/). There you can search by college, by state or even by whether or not the college requires a writing test.

Source: ACT, Inc.

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