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Does messy handwriting greatly affect your essay scores in ACT and standardized tests?

I have to admit, I am not one of those people who can write an immaculate essay under forty minutes with calligraphy style writing. I can try to make my writing clearer, but that will slowly down my writing speed a lot. When I try to write faster, it has the opposite effect; my writing becomes messier. I have written a lot of essays in class such as the APUSH DBQ or English Analysis Essay. My writing is not so messy to a point that you can't read what I say. But still, some words are blurred and the letters are not perfectly straight since I am writing under time constraints. When it comes to grading the essays on the AP exams or standardized tests, do the graders actually take your handwriting into consideration when grading? How do they view an essay with good content but bad handwriting?
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Replies to: Does messy handwriting greatly affect your essay scores in ACT and standardized tests?

  • axlethetravelleraxlethetraveller 159 replies34 threads Junior Member
    Also, my APUSH teacher had always told the class that everyone should write in cursive for their essays. I practiced some cursive writing and got to a point where I can now read cursive writing but still cannot put cursive to use on my essays. Should I continue to try to practice cursive and actually try to use it on my essays despite the ACT and the AP exams will be administered in less than two months? Do test graders prefer cursive writing more?
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  • usualhopefulusualhopeful 1615 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Don't use cursive. If anything, test graders will dislike it because it takes more time to read.
    As long as it's legible, messy is fine.
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  • Futuremed17Futuremed17 145 replies32 threads Junior Member
    Oh god please don't do cursive ha. They say that handwriting doesn't matter but subconsciously I definitely think it makes a big difference. I would just write as neat as you can in print. Also writing a bit bigger/ more also helps so your essay looks longer- this is kinda stupid too but from what I've experienced I have gotten a better score the longer my essay looked! Good luck!!
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  • axlethetravelleraxlethetraveller 159 replies34 threads Junior Member
    Thanks @usualhopeful and @Futuremed17 . I think the best course for me now is just to stick with my old handwriting but try to make it neat.
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  • MtripleeMtriplee 75 replies2 threads Junior Member
    This is of course just one anecdote, but my son claims his small, fairly-messy (printed) handwriting did him in on the ACT essay. His score was indeed very low, especially when compared to the composite. He said he wrote for the entire allotted time, and that he had his thoughts well organized, but the comment he received implied that his essay was too short.

    My advice: Don't write too small, and try to write neatly!
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