Essay Writing Super Fast--40 minutes for ACT Aspire writing

The ACT Aspire essay-- 40 minutes

Strategies that we can practice in the classroom:

  • We want a HOOK, to get the reader's attention
  • CSRQ the prompt for the introductory paragraph.
  • End the introduction with the thesis statement/claim/assertion.
  • Write the thesis statement/claim/assertion with a list of reasons that will be used in the BODY paragraphs. This will be a mini-plan and give the writer direction.

Example Prompt

What does a prompt look like?

Kim loves learning to speak French. In addition to her French class, she takes lessons after school. Kim does well in these after-school lessons, but they don’t leave her much time to do homework for her other classes. Kim wants to keep taking the extra French lessons, but she doesn’t want to do poorly in her other classes.

Should Kim keep taking extra French language lessons? Consider the positions below as you think about how you would answer this question.

*Yes—It is wise to focus on excelling in one area.

*No—It is better to be a well-rounded student.

Now, take a position on this question, and write a persuasive essay in which you argue for your position. Be sure to provide your position and examples to support your reasons.


"Bonjour, Madame!" Most of us have heard this French greeting and that is the end of our knowledge of the French language. Some people find learning a second language as a fun challenge and want to learn as much as possible.

How to start? Restate or CSRQ the prompt

Kim loves learning to speak French. In addition to her French class, she takes lessons after school. *Yes—It is wise to focus on excelling in one area.

writers should try to use a HOOK, answer the "yes/No" question, and then provide a Claim/assertion/thesis statement.

What would a thesis statement/claim/assertion look like for the sample prompt?

Kim should take extra French classes while in high school because she wants to pursue a French degree in college, she wants to be a translator for the government, and she wants to spend time in France.

Using a "formulaic" thesis statement will give the students direction and plan. Advanced students may not need this, but it is a nice way to begin writing for a timed essay.

The Goal:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body paragraph (study French in college)
  3. Body paragraph (use French for a job translating)
  4. Body paragraph (travel or live in France)
  5. Counter-Claim (Some may say...On the other hand,...) This COULD be your last body paragraph.
  6. Conclusion

Our writers need to use transitions between ideas, but "First," "Second," and "Third" will not do.

Want to score a 6/6 for organization? Connect the previous paragraphs topic to the next one. The transitions need to be between and withing paragraphs. See below:

Ex-Body paragraph 1--use/take French in college

Body paragraph 2-- Not only could Kim take advanced classes in French in college, but she could also garner a special job or take a trip to Europe that will allow her to use this second language. Working for an embassy or government organization would be an amazing opportunity for a bilingual person. Perhaps Kim could be a translator for an embassy, the pentagon, or the United Nations. Those jobs would be incredible experiences. If she gets the opportunity to travel to France, the language barrier will not be a problem for her, and the trip would be more fun. Who knows, perhaps a trip to France could lead to a career opportunity, too. The possibilities are endless.

A strong argument will contain Logos or Logical appeals such as facts, common sense, or Compare/Contrast.

The evidence must come from the writer's knowledge. You should not make something up.

The Counter-Claim

In the argument essay (8th grade) the OTHER SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT (COUNTER-CLAIM) MUST be addressed. Most exemplar papers have it written after the final body paragraph.

A good sentence starter for the "counter-claim" could be... "Some may say..." or "On the other hand...."

Some may say that Kim should not take the extra French lessons, and should focus on being a well-rounded student. If Kim has a gift and passion for a second language, she should get the opportunity to take the extra lessons. Many students supplement their favorite activities with private lessons or teams outside of the school day. Another language just happens to be her "thing."

The Conclusion

  • One sentence will not score well.
  • Students need to pull all of their thoughts together, restate but reword their thesis statement, and find the words to connect to their HOOK.
  • (Remember "Bonjour?" How about ending with "Parlez-vous Français?")

Write in paragraphs and to write a complete essay.

  • Aspire doesn't allow indenting with the TAB key.
  • Students can use the space bar to move over 5 spaces or add an extra space BETWEEN paragraphs.
  • This is not MLA format, but it's okay.
  • The more that we practice, revise, and rewrite, the easier it will be on assessment day.

Sunny says, "We Can Do It!!"

Sunny Paxton

Nous aimons les léopard!

(New-saymon lay Lay oh pard)

We love (the) Leopards!

You, go, 8th graders!
Created By
Shannon Paxton


Created with images by PublicDomainPictures - "cheetah leopard animal" • srgrimaud - "leopard print animal print backdrop" • jurvetson - "Leopard in Heat" • Klovovi - "Paris" • allabhamid - "paris eiffel tower france" • 3dman_eu - "paris facade architecture" • laurentgiovag - "paris seine promenade" • pedrosimoes7 - "Paris Old Metro Signboard" • 3dman_eu - "paris sacre coeur church" • phalinn - "Leopard"

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