What does it mean to be an American?
To be an American to me means that I am free. That when I grow up I can pick the job I want, what shift to work. And to have a good education. It means that I can say "The Pledge of Allegiance" and that I can vote for the President, my county clerk, and the Mayor. But to me it means most of all to be free and to be proud that I live in the United States of America here in Wisconsin.
Ashley M., 10, Wisconsin
It means that you are free. It also means you can vote for who you want to.
Hannah K., 10, Wisconsin
I think it's cool being an American because we are free. The Pledge stands for everything.
Alex K., 10, Wisconsin
I think it means to be free. I wouldn't want to be from any other country.
Cheyenne L., 10, Wisconsin
It is great to be an American. We get to play sports and eat lots of food. We get lots of toys, all because we are free — the best thing of all.
Austin B., 11, Wisconsin
Being an American to me is being free. It also means to be fair.
Kaitlyn T., 10, Wisconsin
Being an American is about being free and loyal. It's about having freedom of religion, rights, and justice. It's also about being about yourself.
Sarah K., 10, Wisconsin
To be an American for me means freedom and justice. I also think being an American is a big responsibility.
Neil C., 10, Wisconsin
Being an American means that we are all treated equally no matter what color skin you have, and it doesn't matter what culture you are from. If you are an American you are mighty lucky because you will be free forever.
Cody S., 10, Wisconsin
I think that America is a great country and the First Amendment says it all.
Kane B., 10, Alabama
To be an American means you have the right and freedom to do what you want. It is great to be an American.
Whitley S., 11, Alabama
When I think about September 11, 2001, I walk up and down my neighborhood waving an American flag. On September 11, 2002, I will wear an American shirt to school.
Matt L., 12, Alabama
To be an American is great, because I have freedom of speech; I can go to school to get an education; I have a great family; and you can go where- ever you want to.
Ciara W., 10, Alabama
To me being an American means to be free. America is very special to me and my family. I would give anything for my country!
Sarah B., 11, Alabama
It means being special. Everyone is different and has a different personality. So you can be Italian, Mexican, or Irish, and still be an American. So be yourself.
Rachel P., 10, Alabama
I think being an American is having freedom, the Bill of Rights, and just one person can make a difference in America.
Jillian D., 10, Alabama
I love AMERICA because I have so many rights!! I love having freedom of speech, the freedom of voting, and the freedom of being your own individual. I love being able to have your own religious beliefs. I like that we have a democracy. I love being an American for these reasons and more!!!!!!!!!!!
Krista G., 10, Alabama
I think it means to support your family, community, and your state. And you could help your school by picking up trash and different things.
Justin B., 10, Alabama
I think that it means to support your community by doing things for it. You could join a trash pickup. You could donate money to the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many other things. You could join Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts and do things with them. But the most important thing is to allow freedom, meaning that people should allow other cultures and religions to be with your own culture.
Eugene D., 10, Alabama
Being an American to me means many things like being able to speak your mind; attend the church you want to attend; celebrate the holidays you want to celebrate; and be a slave to no one. September 11 has proved that all the above are true here in America, and we should all be very thankful to be Americans. Peace!
Sarai B., 11, Oregon
To be an American means more than good restaurants, burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets. It means to have faith and to have trust in every American around you. It doesn't matter what color you are. You are an American. It doesn't matter what you wear. What it means to be an American is more than what you think...because I will live my life ...my way. GOD BLESS THE U.S!
Nilam V., 10, South Carolina
To be an American. Many take this phrase too lightly others, too strict. Being an American does not mean that you go to baseball games and eat hot dogs, but to live your life out to the fullest, not just waving around a flag every day. Being an American is to help another, whether it be Polish or Chinese or Afghan or Muslim. Being an American means helping your sworn enemy, even if you do not wish, but you shall help with dignity and pride. Being American means that you capture the true essence of every being, from the simplest little flower to the most-beautiful person in the world. Being American means to be united as one, under whatever deity you worship, and to be able to depend, rely, and give hope to each other. Because being American does not just mean living in America, every person has a part of being an American in them, deep inside, embedded, until they wish to release that piece, and share it with the world. That is what a true American is.
Jonathan B., 12, Hawaii
To be an American is the greatest thing in the world. We have freedom and liberty. We also have a very diverse country which means we are stronger because we have to learn all the different ways of living. I am very lucky to be an American.
Morgan A., 11, Kentucky
Click here to send your own comments on what it means to be an American.
Are you debating whether or not to take the optional ACT essay? Some schools require it, so we highly recommend that you take it (make sure to register for ACT with Writing).
But no need to stress! The essay follows a predictable format, which means you can practice and prepare beforehand. Take a look at a sample ACT writing prompt and learn five key steps to penning a high-scoring essay.
ACT Writing Prompt
This example writing prompt comes straight from our book Cracking the ACT:
Education and the Workplace
Many colleges and universities have cut their humanities departments, and high schools have started to shift their attention much more definitively toward STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and away from ELA (English, Language Arts). Representatives from both school boards and government organizations suggest that the move toward STEM is necessary in helping students to participate in a meaningful way in the American workplace. Given the urgency of this debate for the future of education and society as a whole, it is worth examining the potential consequences of this shift in how students are educated in the United States.
Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each suggests a particular way of thinking about the shift in American education.
|Perspective 1||Perspective 2||Perspective 3|
|ELA programs should be emphasized over STEM programs. Education is not merely a means to employment: ELA education helps students to live more meaningful lives. In addition, an exclusively STEM-based program cannot help but limit students’ creativity and lead them to overemphasize the importance of money and other tangible gains.||ELA programs should be eradicated entirely, except to establish the basic literacy necessary to engage in the hard sciences, mathematics, and business. Reading and writing are activities that are best saved for the leisure of students who enjoy them.||ELA and STEM programs should always be in equal balance with one another. Both are necessary to providing a student with a well-rounded education. Moreover, equal emphasis will allow the fullest possible exposure to many subjects before students choose their majors and careers|
Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the issue of how schools should balance STEM and ELA subjects. In your essay, be sure to:
- analyze and evaluate the perspectives given
- state and develop your own perspective on the issue
- explain the relationship between your perspective and those given
Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.
How to Write the ACT Essay
Your job is to write an essay in which you take some sort of position on the prompt, all while assessing the three perspectives provided in the boxes. Find a way to anchor your essay with a unique perspective of your own that can be defended and debated, and you are already in the upper echelon of scorers.
Step 1: Work the Prompt
What in the prompt requires you to weigh in? Why is this issue still the subject of debate and not a done deal?
Step 2: Work the Perspectives
Typically, the three perspectives will be split: one for, one against, and one in the middle. Your goal in Step 2 is to figure out where each perspective stands and then identify at least one shortcoming of each perspective. For the example above, ask yourself:
- What does each perspective consider?
- What does each perspective overlook?
Step 3: Generate Your Own Perspective
Now it's time to come up with your own perspective! If you merely restate one of the three given perspectives, you won’t be able to get into the highest scoring ranges. You’ll draw from each of the perspectives, and you may side with one of them, but your perspective should have something unique about it.
Step 4: Put It All Together
Now that you have your ideas in order, here's a blueprint for how to organize the ACT essay. This blueprint works no matter what your prompt is.
Body Paragraph (1)
|Body Paragraph (2)|
Step 5: (If There's Time): Proofread
Spend one or two minutes on proofreading your essay if you have time. You’re looking for big, glaring errors. If you find one, erase it completely or cross it out neatly. Though neatness doesn’t necessarily affect your grade, it does make for a happy grader.
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