ACT Writing Sample Essay Topics

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*Please Note! This information relates to the old ACT Writing Test. For information on the Enhanced ACT Writing Test, which began in the fall of 2015, please see here!

The ACT Writing Test prompt will do two things:

  • Describe an issue that's relevant to a high schooler's life
  • Ask the writer to write about the issue from his or her own perspective

Typically, the sample prompts will give two perspectives on the issue. The writer can decide to prove one of the perspectives or create and support a new perspective on the issue.

ACT Writing Sample Essay Prompt 1

Educators debate extending high school to five years because of increasing demands on students from employers and colleges to participate in extracurricular activities and community service in addition to having high grades. Some educators support extending high school to five years because they think students need more time to achieve all that is expected of them. Other educators do not support extending high school to five years because they think students would lose interest in school and attendance would drop in the fifth year. In your opinion, should high school be extended to five years?

ACT Writing Sample Essay Prompt 2

In some high schools, many teachers and parents have encouraged the school to adopt a dress code. Some teachers and parents support a dress code because they think it will improve the learning environment in the school. Other teachers and parents do not support a dress code because they believe it inhibits a student's individual expression. In your opinion, should high schools adopt dress codes for students?

Source: The Real ACT Prep Guide, 2008

ACT Writing Sample Essay Prompt 3

A school board is concerned that the state’s requirements for core courses in mathematics, English, science, and social studies may prevent students from taking important elective courses like music, other languages, and vocational education. The school board would like to encourage more high school students to take elective courses and is considering two proposals. One proposal is to lengthen the school day to provide students with the opportunity to take elective courses. The other proposal is to offer elective courses in the summer. Write a letter to the school board in which you argue for lengthening the school day or for offering elective courses during the summer. Explain why you think your choice will encourage more students to take elective courses. Begin your letter: “Dear School Board:”

Source:, 2009

ACT Writing Sample Essay Prompt 4

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires all school libraries receiving certain federal funds to install and use blocking software to prevent students from viewing material considered “harmful to minors.” However, some studies conclude that blocking software in schools damages educational opportunities for students, both by blocking access to Web pages that are directly related to the state-mandated curriculums and by restricting broader inquiries of both students and teachers. In your view, should the schools block access to certain Internet Web sites?

ACT Writing Sample Essay Prompt 5

Many communities are considering adopting curfews for high school students. Some educators and parents favor curfews because they believe it will encourage students to focus more on their homework and make them more responsible. Others feel curfews are up to families, not the community, and that students today need freedom to work and participate in social activities in order to mature properly. Do you think that communities should impose curfews on high school students? Source: The Princeton Review’s Cracking the ACT, 2008

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "ACT Writing Sample Essay Topics." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Roell, Kelly. (2021, February 16). ACT Writing Sample Essay Topics. Retrieved from Roell, Kelly. "ACT Writing Sample Essay Topics." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).