English Words For Essay Writing

 

When taking the ACT essay section, students have 45 minutes to write a well-reasoned argumentative essay about a given prompt. The new ACT Essay prompts tend to be about “debate” topics — two sides of an issue are presented, with no obviously “right” side. Oftentimes, these subjects carry implications for broader issues such as freedom or morality. Test-takers are expected to convey some stance on the issue and support their argument with relevant facts and analysis.

 

In addition to some of the more obvious categories, like grammar and structure, students’ essays are also evaluated on their mastery of the English language. One way to demonstrate such mastery is through the correct usage of advanced vocabulary words. Below are 50 above-average vocabulary words sorted by the contexts in which they could most easily be worked into an ACT essay.

 

Context 1: Factual Support For ACT Essay

These words can easily be used when stating facts and describing examples to support one’s argument. On ACT essays, common examples are trends or patterns of human behavior, current or past events, and large-scale laws or regulations.

 

  • Antecedent – a precursor, or preceding event for something – N
  • Bastion – an institution/place/person that strongly maintains particular principles, attitudes, or activities – N
  • Bellwether – something that indicates a trend – N
  • Burgeon – to begin to grow or increase rapidly – V
  • Catalyst – an agent that provokes or triggers change – N
  • Defunct – no longer in existence or functioning – Adj.
  • Entrenched – characterized by something that is firmly established and difficult to change – Adj.
  • Foster – to encourage the development of something – V
  • Galvanize – to shock or excite someone into taking action – V
  • Impetus – something that makes a process or activity happen or happen faster – N
  • Inadvertent – accidental or unintentional – Adj.
  • Incessant – never ending; continuing without pause – Adj.
  • Inflame – to provoke or intensify strong feelings in someone – V
  • Instill – to gradually but firmly establish an idea or attitude into a person’s mind – V
  • Lucrative – having a large reward, monetary or otherwise – Adj.
  • Myriad – countless or extremely large in number – Adj.
  • Precipitate – to cause something to happen suddenly or unexpectedly – V
  • Proponent – a person who advocates for something – N
  • Resurgence – an increase or revival after a period of limited activity – N
  • Revitalize – to give something new life and vitality – V
  • Ubiquitous – characterized by being everywhere; widespread – Adj.
  • Watershed – an event or period that marks a turning point – N


Context 2: Analysis

These words can often be used when describing common patterns between examples or casting some form of opinion or judgement.

 

  • Anomaly – deviation from the norm – N
  • Automaton – a mindless follower; someone who acts in a mechanical fashion – N
  • Belie – to fail to give a true impression of something – V
  • Cupidity – excessive greed – Adj.
  • Debacle – a powerful failure; a fiasco – N
  • Demagogue – a political leader or person who looks for support by appealing to prejudices instead of using rational arguments – N
  • Deter – to discourage someone from doing something by making them doubt or fear the consequences – V
  • Discredit – to harm the reputation or respect for someone – V
  • Draconian – characterized by strict laws, rules and punishments – Adj.
  • Duplicitous – deliberately deceitful in speech/behavior – Adj.
  • Egregious – conspicuously bad; extremely evil; monstrous and outrageous – Adj.
  • Exacerbate – to make a situation worse – V
  • Ignominious – deserving or causing public disgrace or shame – Adj.
  • Insidious – proceeding in a subtle way but with harmful effects – Adj.
  • Myopic – short-sighted; not considering the long run – Adj.
  • Pernicious – dangerous and harmful – Adj.
  • Renegade – a person who betrays an organization, country, or set of principles – N
  • Stigmatize – to describe or regard as worthy of disgrace or disapproval – V
  • Superfluous – unnecessary – Adj.
  • Venal – corrupt; susceptible to bribery – Adj.
  • Virulent – extremely severe or harmful in its effects – Adj.
  • Zealot – a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals – N

 

Context 3: Thesis and Argument

These words are appropriate for taking a stance on controversial topics, placing greater weight on one or the other end of the spectrum, usually touching on abstract concepts, and/or related to human nature or societal issues.

 

  • Autonomy – independence or self governance; the right to make decisions for oneself – N
  • Conundrum – a difficult problem with no easy solution – N
  • Dichotomy – a division or contrast between two things that are presented as opposites or entirely different – N
  • Disparity – a great difference between things – N
  • Divisive – causing disagreement or hostility between people – Adj.
  • Egalitarian – favoring social equality and equal rights – Adj.

 

Although it’s true that vocabulary is one of the lesser criteria by which students’ ACT essays are graded, the small boost it may give to a student’s score could be the difference between a good score and a great score. For those who are already confident in their ability to create and support a well-reasoned argument but still want to go the extra mile, having a few general-purpose, impressive-sounding vocabulary words up one’s sleeve is a great way to tack on even more points.

 

To learn more about the ACT test, check out these CollegeVine posts:

 

Angela Yang

Angela is a student at Cornell College of Engineering. At CollegeVine, she works primarily as ACT Verbal Division Manager. She enjoys teaching a variety of subjects and helping students realize their dreams.

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Developing the argument

  • The first aspect to point out is that...
  • Let us start by considering the facts.
  • The novel portrays, deals with, revolves around…
  • Central to the novel is…
  • The character of xxx embodies/ epitomizes…

The other side of the argument

  • It would also be interesting to see...
  • One should, nevertheless, consider the problem from another angle.
  • Equally relevant to the issue are the questions of...

Conclusion

  • The arguments we have presented... suggest that.../ prove that.../ would indicate that...
  • From these arguments one must.../ could.../ might... conclude that...
  • All of this points to the conclusion that...
  • To conclude, …

Ordering elements

  • Firstly,.../ Secondly,.../ Finally,... (note the comma after all these introductory words.)
  • As a final point, …
  • On the one hand, …. on the other hand, …
  • If on the one hand it can be said that... the same is not true for...
  • The first argument suggests that... whilst the second suggests that...
  • There are at least xxx points to highlight.

Adding elements

  • Furthermore, one should not forget that...
  • In addition to...
  • Moreover...
  • It is important to add that…

Accepting other points of view

  • Nevertheless, one should accept that...
  • However, we also agree that...

Personal opinion

  • We/I personally believe that...
  • Our/My own point of view is that...
  • It is my contention that…
  • I am convinced that …
  • My own opinion is …

Others' opinions

  • According to some critics...
    Critics:
  • believe that
  • say that
  • suggest that
  • are convinced that
  • point out that
  • emphasise that
  • contend that
  • go as far as to say that
  • argue for this

Introducing examples

  • For example, …
  • For instance, …
  • To illustrate this point...

Introducing facts

  • It is... true that.../ clear that.../ noticeable that...
  • One should note here that...

Saying what you think is true

  • This leads us to believe that...
  • It is very possible that...
  • In view of these facts, it is quite likely that...

Certainty

  • Doubtless,...
  • One cannot deny that...
  • It is (very) clear from these observations that...

Doubt

  • All the same, it is possible that...
  • It is difficult to believe that...

Accepting other points to certain degree

  • One can agree up to a certain point with...
  • Certainly,... However,...
  • It cannot be denied that...

Emphasising particular points

  • The last example highlights that fact that...
  • Not only... but also...
  • We would even go so far as to say that...

Moderating, agreeing, disagreeing

  • By and large...
  • Perhaps we should also point out the fact that...
  • It would be unfair not to mention that fact that...
  • One must admit that...
  • We cannot ignore the fact that...
  • One cannot possibly accept the fact that...

Consequences

  • From these facts, one may conclude that...
  • That is why, in our opinion, ...
  • Which seems to confirm the idea that...
  • Thus,.../ Therefore,...

Comparison

  • Some critics suggest..., whereas others...
  • Compared to...
  • On the one hand there is the firm belief that... On the other hand, many people are convinced that...

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