Teenagers – well, most people, actually – are famous for being narrow-minded and self-centered when it comes to arguing. Most people just want their opinions heard, and they don’t care what anyone else thinks about the situation. It’s their way or the highway. Their arguments just become egotistical rants about what they think, what they know, and what they want. “Me, me me!”
These rants, however, are hardly ever convincing. The truth is that even if that person might have a good idea or valid perspective, their failure to show their awareness of other points of view is a big weakness. The more an individual can show how much they understand of everyone’s viewpoint, the more likely that individual will be able to show how their particular perspective is the best.
And on the ACT Writing, it’s very, very important that you can demonstrate you know what others are thinking. In fact, here’s what ACT itself says you should do to get a good score on your argument:
“The essay addresses complexity by examining different perspectives on the issue, or by evaluating the implications and/or complications of the issue, or by fully responding to counterarguments to the writer’s position.”
So how do I show that I know other’s perspectives?
The first thing you should take into consideration is the different people who are involved in the argument. The second thing you should consider is the different opinions on the issue those people will have. The best way to do this is to think about these possibilities even before you form your own opinion. Let’s try it out with the following sample.
Question: In your opinion, should parents help choose what content is taught in each class?
It is important to regularly take yourself through this exercise of examining others’ opinion, for this essay and for real life situations. To practice this kind of thinking more, refer to the Prompt Analysis page that gives you multiple steps to work through. The more you practice this kind of thinking, the more naturally you’ll be able to apply it in the ACT Writing.
Great, I’ve got the thinking and planning part down, but how do I put this into my ACT Writing?
It’s much easier than you might imagine! You do NOT have to build entire arguments or paragraphs around what someone else thinks. Instead, all you have to is include someone else’s perspective right before you share your own point. You can do this in the thesis, paragraph topic sentences, and body paragraph explanations. Really, can you include it anywhere. Just follow this simple formula:
Although ________________ might think ____________________, really _________________ is true because _____________________.
This simple type of phrasing makes your arguments automatically more complex, since it is constantly putting it in context of what others might think. And boom, suddenly you sound like a deep, unique thinker and not a ranting teenager!