ACT Writing

ACT Essay Template

Note that the template requires three examples, one for each body paragraph. Examples can include current affairs, history, books, movies, people, companies, or any other topic. You will not be penalized for the inaccuracy of your examples, as long as they sound believable. We’ll talk more about example generation in the next chapter, but for now, just keep in mind that examples will ideally come from a bank of prepared examples.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

  • Quote or Hook statement (broad observation about society, highlighting significance of prompt)
  • Objectively summarize the 3 perspectives
  • Thesis statement (which perspective you support and why)

Paragraph 2: First Perspective you’re against

  • Paraphrase the perspective in your own words
  • Why are you against the perspective/ what are its flaws
  • Example
  • How the example relates to the perspective

Paragraph 3: Second Perspective you’re against

  • Paraphrase the perspective in your own words
  • Why are you against the perspective/ what are its flaws
  • Example
  • How the example relates to the perspective

Paragraph 4: Perspective you support

  • Paraphrase the perspective in your own words
  • Why are you for the perspective/ what are its strengths
  • Example
  • How the example relates to the perspective

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

  • Summarize the 3 perspectives tying in your examples
  • Thesis statement (which perspective you support and why)

Let’s work with the following essay prompt:

Prompt: Tech-Free Time

People today are almost never free from their electronic devices. They constantly monitor their phones, exchange texts and photos, mind their social media pages, work on their laptops and tablets, watch videos, play online games, and engage in countless other plugged-in pursuits. But a growing number of people are beginning to question this practice. They believe that an over dependence on electronic devices is harmful to their heath, their relationships, and perhaps their humanity. Accordingly, they adopt and recommend deliberate “tech-free time” during which they avoid the use of the technologies so prevalent in the world around them. Given the predominance of digital technologies in our daily lives, it is worth considering whether some self-imposed tech-free time might have value.

Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each suggests a particular way of thinking about the value of tech-free time.

Essay Task

Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the value of tech-free time. In your essay, be sure to:

  • analyze and evaluate the perspectives given
  • state and develop your own perspective on the issue
  • explain the relationship between your perspective and those given

Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.

Now, as discussed before, you need to support one perspective and go against the other two. In this chapter, I’m going to side with perspective two and argue against perspectives one and three. You are free to support any perspective as long as you have enough examples and reasoning to support your stance. I generally like to support the perspective that strikes a balance between the two extremes in this case, perspective two.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

I once heard that people make a first impression about you 15 seconds after they first meet you. I believe this is also true for the Essay. After about 15 seconds of reading your Essay, graders will form an initial impression of what score they will give your Essay. They will then spend the next couple of minutes reading through the rest of your essay confirming their initial opinion. Typically, their grades don’t change by more than 1 point on each sub-score from their initial impression.

So for the introduction, don’t just jump right into discussing which perspective is correct. Instead use the template of the introduction paragraph.

The following is what I have come up with:

  1. A great Indian scientist, CV Lakshman once said “Technology is neither moral nor immoral; it is amoral‘’ - meaning that technology is just a tool: a tool that can be a bane or a boon, depending on its usage. Thus, the idea of “tech-free-time’’ is to give humans a break from this tool.
  2. Many people feel that technology is what defines us as humans - a superior species and that is why tech free time is redundant. Others feel that lives and income depend on technology; therefore, the idea of tech free time is subpar. But there is a growing belief that technology and reality work in tandem; to see the effects of the tool, one must be able to experience technology and reality.
  3. Technology is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon which simply cannot be categorized as entirely good or bad. Promulgating a more holistic approach to technology, perspective two is correct in its analysis that while there is no denying technology’s contributions towards mankind, quality time when one is not amassed by technology is of utmost importance.

A few points about my introduction:

  • There is no CV Lakshman. I made him up - as well as his quote. It doesn’t matter if you called me on my bluff. Graders cannot penalize you for the inaccuracy of your statements - feel free to spin whatever tales you like (as long as they seem reasonable).
  • I referred to a perspective explicitly (“perspective two” in the third statement). This is completely alright. It helps the reader clearly see which perspective I support.

Let us now figure how to ace writing the body paragraphs.

Paragraph 2: First perspective you’re against

In this paragraph, you need to write about a perspective you disagree with.

You should:

  1. Paraphrase the perspective in your own words.
  2. Explain the reasoning for your disagreement.
  3. State a concrete example to exemplify your viewpoint
  4. Show how the example relates to the perspective

Let’s go back to the tech-free time prompt.

I am going to argue against perspective 1. Here’s my version:

  1. A well-intentioned, yet ultimately myopic consideration of technology argues that humans have become so engulfed in the digital world that it has become entrenched with humanity’s very definition.
  2. The concept of “modern people” doesn’t mean being connected to technology, but rather it refers to people who are open minded and who experience reality through new inventions. Yes, people do enjoy technology and do depend on it - after all it is a tool to help us live a modern life.
  3. Facebook, for example, is a website that acts as a tool in connecting people across countries, helping people discover new ideas and viewing the world through others’ perspectives. The primary objective of Facebook is to help us experience new ideas and people all around us.
  4. Thus, Facebooks shows that technology is not meant to be a central focus in our lives but rather assist us in living a “modern’’ life.

It’s time to move on to the next paragraph now.

Paragraph 3: Second perspective you’re against

Let’s duplicate the template of the previous paragraph and write the third paragraph.

I am going to argue against perspective three. Here is what I have:

  1. On the other hand, another concept that has emerged is that technology governs our livelihoods and relationships. This idea too is flawed.
  2. Technology is often a means to obtain a livelihood or stay in touch with relatives. However, people control the switch to technology and can log out of the digital world at any time if they feel that technology’s drawbacks are dwarfing its utility.
  3. A case in point is the employee rules of Worldhouse, a multinational publishing agency. Worldhouse requires all employees to leave their workphones and laptops at the office before going home. This enables employees to spend time away from their computing devices and helps them develop meaningful relations with other beings. An in-house study found that employee stress fell by over 70% after this policy was implemented.
  4. Worldhouse’s forward thinking employee policies reflect the ability and need of individuals to spend time away from technology. Not only is it possible, but it is also essential for individuals’ mental health.

Now, onto our last body paragraph.

Paragraph 4: Perspective you support

This paragraph will be similar to the previous two in structure. Here, you will:

  1. Paraphrase the perspective in your own words.
  2. Explain why you support it.
  3. State a concrete example to exemplify your viewpoint
  4. Show how the example relates to the perspective

To reiterate, I’m supporting perspective two, the moderate viewpoint. Here’s my stance:

  1. There is also a unique perspective which strikes a fine balance between our life and technology.
  2. What this perspective does is that it allows users to reap the benefits of technology and use those benefits to enrich their lives.
  3. A case in point is Zomato, a mobile phone based software that allows users to find new restaurants around them. However, if the user reaches the restaurant and continues to use his/her phone, the user won’t be able to truly enjoy the experience.
  4. Thus, technology can help one go outdoors, meet friends, and enjoy “the real world’’.

All done! Now, let’s wrap up with the conclusion.

Paragraph 5: Conclusion

We’re almost there! This is, by far, the easiest paragraph to write. We’re just saying what we have already said and the only real challenge is to use non-repetitive wording. We’re going to restate the three perspectives tying in our examples - stating once again why our chosen perspective is correct and the others are wrong.

Compare it to my conclusion:

  1. The final analysis shows that technology creates a myriad of benefits for society. As the example of Facebook shows, technology does not define mankind and only helps individuals achieve other goals in life. Furthermore, Worldhouse proves it is not only possible but also beneficial for individuals to spend time away from technology.
  2. In the end, technology is just a tool and the idea of tech free time ensures that mobile devices do not consume one’s life and remain just a tool. Just like the Zomato app, technology can enable meaningful experiences but cannot replace them.

And we’re finished!