ACT-Style Essay:

Gang Trial Reflection

As Americans, we value our personal liberty and the freedoms represented in the first amendment. However, we also expect to be able to live in a safe and peaceful community. Yet throughout our history, there have been times when officials have been forced to violate the rights of individuals or risk the wellbeing of the community. Are authority figures ever justified in violating an individual’s freedom?

Using at least one example from our class gang trial, write a multi-paragraph essay that takes a position on this question and argues the extent to which authority figures are justified in limiting one’s personal liberties when the community’s values are at stake.
Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.

Here’s the catch....

The ACT Essay Writing Test has a strict time limitation of 30 minutes, which is definitely not enough time to write multiple drafts of your essay. So your strategy should be quick brainstorming and organizational planning followed by one thorough draft of an essay. Make sure to have a watch to time yourself throughout the ACT Writing Test!

Here's How:

  • Read the Topic well - 5 minutes. Take up to 5 minutes to think about the essay topic carefully and jot down any thoughts and examples that come to mind in the margins of the writing test booklet (not the essay space!).

  • Make an Outline - 5 minutes. Put your notes in an order that makes sense. Think of how you would explain your opinions to people in a conversation, from start to finish, so that they would be convinced. That's how you should organize your essay. You can number your points if it helps.

  • Write the Essay - 15 minutes. Start the essay with a brief paragraph that introduces the topic and your opinion (claim), so the reader knows where you're going. Then write the body of the essay as if you're explaining your opinion to someone in a conversation, point after point. You don't need to follow a specific 5-paragraph format, but you do need to write in an order that makes sense. At some point, mention other opinions and why you disagree. Last, summarize your opinion with a conclusion.

  • Revise- 5 minutes. Leave at least a few minutes after finishing the essay to correct any major spelling and grammar mistakes, and also to make sure that every word of your essay is legible. If the grader can't read your essay, your score will suffer! So do some brief polishing at this point, but don't try to erase the whole thing and start over again. (Avoid “you”!)

Name _PerDate_ Final Paper Score_


I. FOCUS (up to 6 points) Your Score
The focus is more than a thesis statement. This feature examines whether the subject/issue/position is clear and whether the central purpose is maintained throughout the paper. The writer must maintain a clear position/logic throughout with an effective conclusion.

1 = Subject/position is unclear. Insufficient writing to show that criteria are met.
2 = Subject/position is vague. May be insufficient writing to determine that subject/position
(or issue) can be sustained.
3 = Subject/position identified by only brief, general opening statement or established
somewhere in the paper.
4 = Maintains clear logical subject/position. Clear closing (may be a restatement).
5 = Clearly sets purpose of paper through thematic introduction, specific preview, or
successful/sophisticated introduction. Effective closing (attempts to unify).
6 = Effective opening which displays sophistication through the use of anecdotes, quotations,
definitions, personal appeals, or other effective strategies. Effective closing (unifies).

II. SUPPORT (up to 6 points) Your Score
This feature focuses on the quality of the detail or support illustrating or explaining the reasons and sub-points. The
more subtopics or branches; the greater the depth.

1 = Support may lack clarity. Insufficient writing to show that criteria are met.
2 = Most support is general or consists of repetition/redundancy.
3 = Some main points are developed by specific detail.
4 = Most major points developed by specific detail.
5 = All major points developed by specific detail; Word choice enhances specificity.
6 = All major points fully developed and supported evenly by specific detail throughout.

III. ORGANIZATION (up to 6 points) Your Score
This feature examines whether the composition exhibits a clear structure or plan of development
(beginning, middle, and end) and whether the points are logically related to each other.

1 = Insufficient writing to show that criteria are met. Structure is attempted.
2 = Lacks appropriate persuasive or expository structure.
3 = Structure is evident. Coherence (paragraph to paragraph) and cohesion (sentence to
sentence) demonstrated with appropriated transitions.
4 = Structure is clear. Most points logically presented and organized.
5= Varied sentence structure and word choice produce cohesion.
6 = Structure is clear, appropriate, and effective

IV. CONVENTIONS (up to 6 points) Your Score
Evaluation of the paper's use of conventions should take into account the following: how seriously the errors interfere with communication; whether errors are major or minor, and the number of errors.

5: Major Errors: Incorrect subject/verb agreement; Run-on(s); fragments; Incorrect use of words; incorrect pronoun reference; confusing tense shifts; omission of capital letters; lack of or incorrect ending punctuation; mixed or inconsistent paragraph formats
6: Minor Errors: Omitted words; commas in a series; awkward or odd use of words/phrases, but meaning is still clear; homonyms (its/it's, there/their); missing periods

V. INTEGRATION (up to 6 points) Your Score __
Provides a general evaluation of how clearly the paper achieves the assigned task for a specific grade level. It reflects
the view that the paper is a total work; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

1 = Insufficient writing to show that criteria are met; Does not fulfill the assignment.
2 = Lacks appropriate persuasive or expository structure; may be insufficient writing to
determine that features can be maintained
3 = Partially developed; inference is usually required
4 = Bare-bones-developed paper for grade level; simple and clear, presents nothing more
than the essentials.
5 = Developed for grade level
6 = Fully developed for grade level; Clear and purposeful Focus