Answer-Cite-Explain (ACE) Writing Strategy

The Answer – Cite – Explain (ACE) writing strategy is designed to help students organize their writing and support their thinking to form constructed responses for  informative/explanatory compositions. This strategy has an emphasis on the application of learning where students must provide textual evidence to support their answers and expand their thinking to create a well constructed paragraph. Students between 6th to 12th grade are targeted for this instructional strategy. Teachers can deliver this strategy in small groups, whole class, or in a one on one environment. ACE directly aligns with the Common Core State Standards (2012) for writing as students are required to, “write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient information.”

Students should be explicitly and repeatedly taught how to use the ACE writing strategy (see below) so the steps and process become generalized across content areas. This strategy can easily adapted across contents to support a more thorough understanding of material. Depending on the age of the students, rubrics are the ideal tool to use to monitor the progress over time. Rubric data will provide information on where further instruction should be focused when implementing the strategy (e.g., restating question as an answer, appropriate use of transitions, explaining the answer and cite). Additionally, it is recommended teachers keep student work folders or portfolios to monitor how student writing has improved over time using this strategy. This has been very effective for monitoring student writing goals on Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

Answer – Cite – Explain at a Glance

Example: Adapted ACE Strategy Graphic Organizer ~ This graphic organizer is used regularly in my special education reading class.

Example: ACE Writing Rubric – 8th Grade

Example: ACE Strategy Steps implemented at Northwest Middle School

ACE Instructional Video

Research & References: ACE

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects. (2012), Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved from

Graham, S. & Perin, D. (2007). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for adolescent students. Journal of Educational Psychology. 99(3), 445-476.

Rogowsky, B. (2007). ACES writing strategy. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s