How has the ACT Changed? What Do Parents and Students Need to Know?

In all fifty states and even outside the U.S., the ACT is one of two college admissions test that measures the knowledge acquired during a student’s pre-college academic tenure and may help colleges predict a level of success for potential admitted students. In fact, 2.1 million of 2016’s graduating high school students took the ACT before applying to colleges last year.  The second test is the SAT produced by the College Board.

ACT organization differs from the College Board, in that they prefer gradual changes to their test, rather than a large overhaul at once. Thus, over the last year and a half, they have implemented several format changes and as well as significant report improvements.  All these changes seem positive and align the ACT with the changes in curriculum across the country.  Although the new test has been stated to have the same level of difficulty across the various versions and while the sections of the ACT test remain the same (i.e. Reading, Math, English, Science and Essay) there have been a few changes in the number of passages, questions or the subject matter in some sections. 

Below is a summary of some of those format changes:

In the reading section, there are now "dual passage" type questions similar to those on the SAT.  In the Science Section, there has been a fluctuation in the number of passages from a typical of 7 passages in the past to 6 to 7 depending on the test date. The Math Section, has more probability and statistics questions on the most recent exams.  The Essay Section, has 10 more minutes and it is now 40 minutes instead of 30.  However, the prompt is now longer and the students are now provided with three perspectives on a topic and the ACT expects a more complex development and analysis of these viewpoints. 

Since the September 10, 2016 ACT test, the ACT made a major change in the layout of their reports, designing reports that provide insight into a student’s scores. With that in mind, we compiled a reference list of need-to-know changes that students and parents should be aware of:

·       Paper reports have a new look
Using data visualization, the new ACT’s paper reports offer a dynamic, easy-to-follow breakdown of a student’s scores and performance. The new ACT paper reports are clearer and more engaging to read.

·       The ACT Writing Test Score Range altered
As of September, of this year the ACT report changed their Writing Test scores using a new range: 2 to 12, with 12 being the highest. Making these score ranges consistent with the other ACT’s domains.

·       ACT College Readiness Benchmark Is Displayed
This new benchmark is an insightful tool—especially for students currently preparing to take the test second or third time — allowing a better understanding of how a student’s performance compares to others’ scores, category-by-category, and in relation to his or her peers.  

·       Students can measure STEM performance on the ACT
Unlike the SAT, the ACT offers a science section. Now, paper reports will include the ACT STEM College Readiness Benchmark, providing meaningful context for a student’s STEM score. The ACT STEM College Readiness Benchmark provides a predictive measure of how a student might perform in STEM subjects at the college level.

·       Reports include insight on college major and career matches.
Using details provided during the student registration process, the new ACT reports include a non-cognitive, personalized table using results from the questions asked on the Interest-Major Fit level score and Career Connector. The Interest-Major Fit level score shows students whether their reported interests are well-matched to their desired or intended majors, while the Career Connector summarizes possible career choices based on a student’s interests and test performance.

The ACT’s changes implemented with the September 10, 2016 test results are largely positive for both parents and students, with score reports offering keener, individualized insight into a student’s performance. At Achieve Academics, we stay up-to-date on all developments when it comes to college admissions testing. Through small group classes or one-on-one tutoring, we pass our knowledge and experience on to your child, no matter his or her learning style or overarching academic and collegiate goals. To learn more about updates to the ACT’s reporting approach, or to have your student begin prepping for college entrance exams, contact us today 763-559-8378.