First, just breathe. The essay still won't count toward your composite score, so ultimately, the impact of the new ACT essay will be minimal.
- It's going to get harder. The silver lining is that the increased difficulty will significantly enhance the advantage conferred to students who prepare for the ACT essay.
- The format of the prompt is changing. Students will be given a complex topic and three perspectives on said topic. They will be asked to "evaluate and analyze" the three perspectives in 40 minutes (increased from 30 minutes on the old format).
- The scoring system is changing too. Students will now be given an essay score on a 36-point scale, similar to the scores they receive on the other four sections of the ACT (but once again, the essay score will not affect students' composite scores in any way).
- This change in no way affects our recommendation to always sign-up for the optional ACT essay.
- We have practice essay prompts, and our students will be ready for the new format on the September 12th, 2015 official ACT exam.