In my July post , An ACT to Follow, I enumerated several general changes that the ACT will undergo as early as next year. Although the president of the AC has not yet announced a specific date for the unveiling, the timeline appears to parallel that of its rival, the SAT. So current high school sophomores will be the first ones to face tests that differ from those currently in use.
One of the revisions planned will affect the optional ACT essay. Last year, more than half of the 1.8 million test takers included the essay, as selective colleges and universities do require it. Currently, students have thirty minutes to respond to a prompt in a persuasive format. The new exam will present a different task. According to an ACT statement, students will have to “evaluate multiple perspectives on a complex issue and generate their own analysis based on reasoning, knowledge and experience.” The time allotment may expand to allow for more comprehensive responses.
Another proposed alteration will affect the reporting of the English and Reading sections of the test. According to one report in The Washington Post, the ACT, “Will begin reporting combined scores in English language arts — reflecting performance on the English, reading and writing sections of the test — as well as in science and math. It also will report a “career readiness indicator,” meant to show performance on certain skills employers deem important.” US News and World Report further explains: “New scores include a STEM score, which will represent a student’s overall performance on the science and math sections, and an overall score for a student who completes the English, reading and writing sections . . . The new scores will be a supplement to the familiar scores that students already receive.” Perhaps the most significant change to the ACT will be the testing platform. Test-takers will have the opportunity to take an online version of the test.
Spokesmen for the ACT maintain that the test will not be radically different from the current test. Instead, they claim that the organization is striving to stay relevant and provide comprehensive information to future employers.