ACT Unveils Revised Exam with New Readiness Indicators and Writing Scores

On Friday, ACT Inc. announced plans to strategically revise its college entrance examination – the months after the College Board unveiled changes to the SAT.

Starting next year, students who take the ACT will receive more information about their readiness for college and careers, ACT officials said. The test results will include a "STEM Score," representing a student's performance on the mathematics and science portions of the exam, and an "English Language Arts Score," which will combine the student's performance on the English, reading, and writing sections.

The exam also will include new "readiness indicators" in an attempt to align with the Common Core State Standards domains and conceptual categories. One will show whether a student is likely to understand the kinds of complex texts he or she will take in college.

The other will assess a test taker's career readiness, revealing his or her mastery of skills – such as applied math and reading-for-information – that employers value, ACT officials said. The measure will be based on the scores of students who have taken both the ACT and ACT Inc.'s WorkKeys tests, which are job-skills assessments.

"We asked how we can make the results more useful and more relevant to students, teachers, and counselors," Jon Erickson, president of education and career solutions at ACT, said in an interview on Tuesday.

The new scores and indicators will supplement students' overall score on the exam. The ACT's traditional 1-to-36 scale will stay the same, but the ACT's optional writing test is changing. Currently, the prompt for the 30-minute essay asks test takers to argue one side of an issue, such as whether high schools should require students to wear uniforms. Although samples of the new prompts were not yet available, Edward R. Colby, a spokesman for ACT, said the questions would be more nuanced. The new essays will be scored in four categories: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use.


Related Links

ACT Inc. Press Release

The Chronicle of Higher Education