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Has the math ACT gotten harder?

sattutsattut 1038 replies90 threads Senior Member
As a tutor, I have found that the tests appear much harder than 5 years ago and those from 5 years ago much harder than from 10 years ago. Are they putting in harder problems to prevent so many people from getting all the problems right? Are the top students at a higher level with math than before?
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Replies to: Has the math ACT gotten harder?

  • Tigerwife92Tigerwife92 207 replies3 threads Junior Member
    I'm thinking more students are taking higher levels at an earlier age. In D20's state/district honor kids start high school level math in 7th, so she took AP calc in 10th. They also do ACT drills for 10-15 minutes every day in 11th grade.
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  • parentologistparentologist 242 replies28 threads Junior Member
    My son is a good math student, was always a year or two ahead, got high grades in honors math. On recently retired practice tests without any preparation, he got in the 35/36 range on the English sections, quickly got to the same level on the Science (he just needed to get familiar with the way the info was presented), but had a great deal of trouble finishing the math in time, and always had trouble with the last ten or so problems. He did a LOT of math prep for a month before the test, using recently released ACT tests and the recommended test prep books, mastered every concept, and said it was STILL really hard to finish in the allotted time, and the last ten problems were still very difficult. There were topics that he said had not been covered in his school's excellent math curriculum, that were not covered in the test prep book, that he had to look up on the internet and teach himself. From what he described, it seemed that the questions were so hard, or so unrelated to the standard high school curriculum, and given under such time pressure, that the only way to get a perfect score would be if one had been to a cram school that had access to the questions - apparently a common tactic in East and South Asia, since the ACT admits that it recycles tests that have not yet been officially released.

    To me, it seems that it is not right to try to separate out the kids by adding in topics that are not part of the standard high school math curriculum, nor is it right to do it by allowing insufficient time - when a significant proportion of the students (as many as 18 % in wealthy communities) are getting extra time for questionable disabilities conveniently diagnosed in tenth or eleventh grade. The solution to some students getting more time than others, is to put less time pressure into the test, and focus on knowledge and ability, rather than speed. But that would take effort and expense on the part of the test maker, and as demonstrated by the absolute, shameful fiasco of ACT (non)registration this fall, it's clear that the ACT is an incompetent organization, that should be disbanded.

    I'm REALLY hoping that after this fall's ACT registration nightmare, colleges move to being not only standardized test-optional, but test-blind. And this is from a mother who was National Merit, whose kid will likely benefit from the boost a high standardized test score will give to his application. At this point, the test is simply a money maker for the ACT and College Board, an opportunity for cheating, and a source of unnecessary stress for high school students.
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  • havenoideahavenoidea 452 replies18 threads Member
    Purely anecdotal, but S is also a few yrs advanced, was getting 36s on old ACT math sections and only got a 34 on the July one. He thought it was because he had to pee so badly during the section and they wouldn’t let him go to the bathroom, lol, so he’s taking it again this Sat (no study), so we will see. For comparison, he got an 800 on SAT math section and SAT math subject test.
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  • bgbg4usbgbg4us 1646 replies46 threads Senior Member
    havenoidea: do you think sometimes that missing just a question or two can drop those scores pretty easily in that tippy top group (at least that's what happened with the PSAT test). Your son sounds like he's really good at math. good luck with SAT
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