The Future of the ACT Essay

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:

In our recent communication on the elimination of the SAT essay, we said we would keep you posted on the future of the ACT essay.

What’s the trend with the ACT essay?

We expect to see the ACT essay also retired in time, and the trend in college admissions requirements supports this prediction. At this point, the list of schools that actually require the ACT essay continues to diminish to a smaller and smaller set of schools, most of which are not target schools for our students:

• Elizabeth City State University (NC)
• Hobe Sound Bible College (FL)
• Molloy College (NY)
• Portland State University (OR)
• Soka University of America (CA)
• Southwest School of Arts (TX)
• United States Military Academy (West Point) (NY)
• University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX)
• University of Montana Western (MT)
• VanderCook College of Music (IL)
• Wyoming Catholic College (WY)
• York College of Pennsylvania (PA)

Why has the ACT essay lost relevance?

As an assessment of spontaneous writing, the ACT Essay has always been of debated value. While its grading rubric is intelligent, thoughtful, and useful in helping students cultivate college-ready persuasive essay writing skills, its grading (which happens under incredible time duress) and its placement (40 minutes at the end of a 3-hour exam) raise questions about the reliability of its results. By contrast, several years of essay writing grades in high school serve admissions officers as a far better index to a student’s writing ability.

So what should you do?

As a result, we are recommending that students do NOT register for the Essay Writing portion of the ACT going forward. Focus instead on the English, Math, Reading, and Science portions of the exam, which offer relevant academic insights into a student’s college readiness in addition to the student’s GPA from the high school classroom. Students should focus on their writing in the classroom as well as work on college application essays to demonstrate their authentic writing skills more effectively.

As always, consult with your college counseling team regarding specific advice on your testing plan, as they are your best advocates for a comprehensive review of your admissions approach.

 

Be well,
Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

Matthew Pietrafetta

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