ACT makes big changes to testing

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The ACT organization has recently announced redesign their standardized for next year, including new testing opportunities and a way to retake one section at a time. 

The ACT is comprised of four sections: reading, English language, science, and math, plus a diagnostics test and voluntary essay portion. This test is scaled from 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score a test taker can get. This score is averaged from the sections, which are also on a scale from 1 to 36. Previously, when a student wasn’t satisfied with their score in one of the sections, they were required to retake the entire test. Now, students have the ability to retake individual sections in order to improve their scores. 

           Senior Riya Katail is excited for the new changes to the testing policy. She claims she is a student who doesn’t do well on certain sections, so she “run[s] the risk of doing worse on the whole test the second time.”

           The ACT is also implementing an online test option starting September 2020. Test takers will now have the option to choose between a written test and an online test. They are giving students the opportunity to choose the best test taking route for themselves. The option to take an online test could also result in faster score releases. Currently, it takes anywhere between two and three weeks to receive an official score report, but with this new policy, scores will be released within two business days. This ensures that test takers the opportunity to quickly make decisions about which colleges and scholarships they wish to apply to. 

           The third change will create the opportunity to get an official SuperScore report. If a student takes multiple tests, they can combine the highest score in each section to create the highest score. SAT already has this option when reporting scores to colleges, but the ACT only gives the option to send out all scores, resulting in the college being responsible for superscores. 

          Some students find that one test usually fits their test taking styles. Senior Avani Shingari decided to take the ACT in order to keep her options open and she is satisfied by the new superscore policy. “[The change] helps with super-scoring since students won’t have to send weaker scores to colleges in order to superscore,” she said. 

          In 2015, Michigan Department of Education switched from the ACT, which was taken since 2011, to the SAT. Every three years, the SAT and ACT place their bids and the cheapest one wins out. Principal Jason Skiba believe that taking the SAT at school is beneficial because, sometimes, this is the only opportunity that students will have to take a college required assessment. “While politicians are looking at it like ‘this is a way to see if schools are doing what they need to be doing,’ the big picture is that there’s a benefit. This way all juniors have the chance to take the test,” he said. 

          Even if the ACT bids lower when the current contract ends, Skiba is not sure if it will impact much. The contract with CollegeBoard provides much more benefits other than taking the SAT in the spring, such as scholarship opportunities. “There is another bonus for juniors because if you score high enough on the PSAT/NMSQT, then if you become a National Merit Finalist, there is money tied to it,” he said. 

          No matter if the school keeps the SAT or switches to the ACT, Shingari believes that these changes will make students more willing to take the ACT and she “wish[es] they were still in place when [she] was still testing.”