Updates Announced for the ACT

June 2020 Update: ACT has announced that the launch of section retesting has been postponed to fall of 2021. The postponement was to accommodate the larger number of students needing to take the full test in the fall after COVID-related test cancellations in spring of 2020. Major Shifts in ACT Testing Options Section Retesting, Superscore Reporting, Online Testing ACT announced three major testing initiatives this week, primarily rooted in recently released research on the power of the superscore. These changes will go into effect for the September 2020 national test date. ACT released new analysis in August of this year that found that a superscore—a combination of the highest section scores across multiple test dates—was the most accurate predictor of a student’s later college GPA. As a result of this research, ACT is making three major changes: section retesting, superscore reporting, and online testing. Section Retesting For students who have already taken the full-length ACT at least once, they will be allowed to sign up to retake specific sections rather than the test as a whole. The cost for this option has not yet been released, though ACT has confirmed that the price point would be lower than the full-length test. Any retakes of specific sections would be taken online, and students will be able to take one, two, or three subjects in a given retest sitting. Superscore Reporting ACT will report a superscore to colleges for students that test more than once. In their research, the superscore method was more predictive of a student’s college GPA than any other method, including a student’s average, latest, or highest ACT composite score. Reporting the superscore encourages colleges to use the most accurate performance metric rather than a single test administration when predicting college success. Online Testing for National Test Dates A third major initiative from ACT will allow students to take the ACT online for any national test date. In the past, the ACT has been available online at international test sites and at specific state or districts that have signed on for online testing, but the option was not available to students testing independently. Starting in September 2020, testers at selected test centers (with plans to expand to all test centers) will be able to opt in to online testing. Testing online has the distinct advantage of quicker score release, as scores from online test dates are released only two days after testing. Scores from pencil and paper exams are returned approximately ten days after testing.  ACT has clearly stated that at this time, there are no plans to discontinue the pencil and paper option. New Options, New Questions These changes certainly offer advantageous options to students, allowing them more flexibility in testing and scoring. This flexibility, however, raises several questions regarding the reliability of the scores. When it comes to comparability of performance to pencil and paper testing, online testing has shown mixed results. Research from the writers of the SAT, the College Board, in January of this year, found that students [...]

By |2019-10-09T13:51:14+00:00October 9, 2019|Academic Approach, ACT|Comments Off on Updates Announced for the ACT

ACT or SAT: Which Test Is Right for You?

At Academic Approach, we work with families and schools across Chicagoland to support students from all backgrounds to grow scores, skills, and confidence both on and beyond standardized tests. An important part of this work involves a choice: to ACT or SAT — which test should I take? The ACT or SAT can make Hamlets of us all, leaving us wondering what to do, what path to take. Either test is accepted by every college and university, so it’s really a matter of the right fit between the student and test. To help students decide, here is some direction on which test can be a better fit. Reading Comprehension: Marathoner or Sprinter? When reading, some students are more like marathoners — deliberate, calculating, cautious in decision making. Others prefer a sprinter’s approach — reading and reacting quickly. The SAT features passages with greater text complexity, but students are granted 43 percent more time per question for thoughtful analysis over 65 minutes. If students prefer the extra time to arrive at decisions, then the SAT is for them. However, if students prefer to glean meaning quickly and make decisions on a quick 35-minute sprint, then the ACT is the better choice. Mathematical Reasoning: Elbow Grease or Calculator Work? While SAT and ACT math cover similar material, the SAT assesses demanding algebraic problem-solving and dense word problems. The ACT focuses more on geometry formulae. The ACT also allows use of a calculator throughout while the SAT does not allow calculator use for 20 math questions and has 13 student-produced-response questions with no multiple-choice answers. In short, if students enjoy grinding out answers with a little elbow grease — multi-step algebra problems without help from the calculator — then the SAT is the better option. If students benefit more from memory of key formulae and calculator use in arriving at answers, the ACT is the preferred path to math. Science Reasoning: A Full Serving or an Appetizer? While the SAT and the ACT both assess science reasoning through data presentations, the ACT features a standalone science section. On the ACT, science is always the fourth section, while on the SAT, 35 science-related questions are spread across reading, grammar, and math. So, if students are fond of science, and enjoy a full serving, then the ACT is the right choice. If students prefer some science appetizers, small servings throughout the test, then they have an appetite for SAT science. English Grammar: Apples to Apples The dilemma — to ACT or SAT? — is simplified when it comes to English grammar, which is assessed largely the same way on both tests. Both assess usage and mechanics skills (e.g., sentence construction, punctuation) and rhetorical skills (e.g., essay composition principles). There is no avoiding a healthy and necessary assessment of your student’s college-readiness proofreading and copy-editing skills! Resolving the Drama If you are still racked with indecision, let us help you decide which is better for your student through our complimentary testing and analysis. Try them both and [...]

By |2019-10-02T09:41:11+00:00October 2, 2019|ACT, SAT|Comments Off on ACT or SAT: Which Test Is Right for You?
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