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New ACT changes

00seeker00seeker 2 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
I am looking for students, parents and educators to comment on today's announcement of big changes in the ACT. Students will now be able to re-take individual sections instead of the whole test, and the ACT will provide super-scores, averaging the best subsection scores from all the times you took the test. Is this good? Bad?
Why? How do you think it will it affect you? (Deadline 4 p.m., due to holiday, though feel free to continue posting if you like.)

Anemona Hartocollis, higher ed reporter, The New York Times, [email protected]

MODERATOR'S NOTE:
The journalist has been approved to ask this question here.
edited October 8
19 replies
Post edited by skieurope on
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Replies to: New ACT changes

  • milgymfammilgymfam 822 replies14 threadsRegistered User Member
    I think it’s good, and my D just wished it had happened sooner. She has over a ten point spread between two of her sections and would love to focus on one without worrying about the other, not to mention the marathon of sitting through the other sections just for one.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 2236 replies30 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 8
    Time will tell. A number of colleges don't currently superscore ACT.....will they change their policies based on ACT's changes? Will colleges even accept section scores taken individually?

    Seems some students may take the full test earlier now, then take individual sections to fill in later and try to increase their superscore. ACT has always been more a test of managing time as compared to SAT....so taking only one section will be an advantage for some students because there will be no endurance aspect.

    I do think these changes ultimately benefit relatively advantaged students....those who have a support system to help them better understand these changes, and the $ to keep taking section tests.
    edited October 8
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1381 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 8
    I think this is mostly a revenue grab by the ACT. In the past, there has always been a hesitancy to retake because few schools officially superscored and the applicant was at risk that high subscores in one sitting may be lower in a subsequent sitting. Now this is better than superscoring for the SAT because you can truly just focus and study for selected sub components. Other than the $, there is little risk to take the ACT multiple times. I think it also skews comparative results because for better or worse, concentrating for 35-60 minutes vs close to 3 hours is a different test. It will be interesting to see if the College Board follows suit.

    This change also on average probably benefits students who have access to better guidance on the application process even more because another gaming component is added. As far as schools admissions are concerned, it probably will have a mixed effect. This system will be advantageous to students who take advantage of this for schools that only look at 1 reported superscore. Less benefit for schools that ask for submission of all scores and already say that they look at each component.
    edited October 8
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  • evergreen5evergreen5 1490 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 8
    The ACT has long had the reputation for speed (and by extension, endurance) being a significant basis of performance, especially at the top end of the scoring scale, much moreso than for SAT. The obvious question is whether a single section score should be compared to a score from a full test and whether the scores are truly standardized. The NYT should consult a psychometric expert on that question. Also more generally, take a look at Art Sawyer's blog.

    In the long run, one has to wonder whether ACT is putting another nail in its own coffin.
    edited October 8
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  • cshell2cshell2 552 replies7 threadsRegistered User Member
    SJ2727 wrote: »
    I think it devalues the test, personally. It advantages those who can take the test 4 times and focus just on one section per test.

    I agree. It also puts pressure on students to take all these extra tests because everyone else is and suddenly their 33 ACT isn't so great anymore.

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  • 00seeker00seeker 2 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    That makes sense, thanks.
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  • 00seeker00seeker 2 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Interesting point about time management. If I have space, can I use your name and title with that?
    anemona
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  • evergreen5evergreen5 1490 replies31 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited October 8
    @00seeker Presumably you were referring to post #2 about time management. A suggestion: while the ACT being a test of speed is a very widely-held observation and is not news to anyone with any familiarity, your article would sound more substantive if you cited, e.g., a test prep tutor on that point (can't be that hard to find one in NYC). Alternatively, a quick google might pull up useful references.
    edited October 8
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  • vistajayvistajay 1461 replies27 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    As a parent, I do not like it. It will lead to many more 35 and 36 scores, thereby increasing the anxiety of certain students who feel their 33 and 34 scores are not competitive for the most elite schools and scholarships. Now, if they also make the test harder to create a greater range of scores, I am ok with it.
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  • 1917souci1917souci 81 replies5 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Besides everything that has been said, here are the two unknowns:

    1-Will the individual test be even harder or more challenging than what they are today?

    2- How about the curves? Keep in mind that these tests are actually scored based on curves. When everyone has time to focus on just one section, the potential curve could be detrimental for those just missing a few answers.

    Lots of unknowns here. From the look of it, students might benefit. But I am just not sure it will. It might just become more competitive as well.
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  • suzyQ7suzyQ7 3964 replies55 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I think this will push more schools to go test optional because it devalues the test. SAT will rush to implement the same policy and everyone can just focus on their one section. These tests are somewhat of an endurance and pressure test, and that part will be gone with the ability to retake sections.
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  • matt2024matt2024 38 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    A significant part of taking ACT or SAT is that a student has to learn to focus for the whole length of the test and maintain a level of excellence across all sections. With this change it eliminates that critical aspect of the test and one can just prepare for one section and try to ace that. A natural extension of this would be why shouldn't college board also allow AP tests and SAT subject tests to be taken at subsection levels. How is that equivalent to preparing for the whole year and taking AP Chem in one shot.
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  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids 650 replies63 threadsRegistered User Member
    This will benefit people with time, money and guidance (both guidance counselors and parents) geared towards getting students into top colleges.

    Presumably that will result in an increase in scores overall. Since essentially the point of this test is to compare students to each other, that means everyone who does not utilize the multiple test strategy will have a score that is comparatively lower.

    Honestly it probably helps my family because we are in the know and able to game the system. But overall it's a net negative. It just gives another advantage to students who are already at a massive advantage.
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 1890 replies6 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Now, if they also make the test harder to create a greater range of scores, I am ok with it.

    I’m not, because it puts those who typically won’t take the test more than once - already likely to be disadvantaged in various ways (school, counselor support, income etc) - at even more of a disadvantage relative to the rich kids who get tutors and for whom repeated exam costs are not a problem.
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  • BKSquaredBKSquared 1381 replies7 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    The only way this could possibly work and be a "fair" comparison across students who take all sections at the same time and those who take only selected sections is to scale the scores of subsections differently. For example for an applicant who missed 3 questions on a subsection but took all subsections when scaled against all applicants who took the whole test may make a 35, but for an applicant who only took that subsection when compared to other applicants who only took that one subsection, 3 wrong could yield a 32. That would be fair. Kids in similar testing situations would be scaled against each other.
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  • GKUnionGKUnion 165 replies6 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    edited October 8
    And just like that considerably fewer high school test takers were diagnosed with conditions that required accommodations....
    edited October 8
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  • mathhappymathhappy 75 replies10 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    I agree that it waters down the test, which is supposed to be about speed and endurance, and would make me very hesitant to choose the ACT over the SAT due to this. That being said, the SAT has been having its own issues with inconsistent curving and such so I’m glad I don’t have to make this choice.

    I’m also concerned about the logistics of it. Initially, this option will only be available via the online version of the test and different subsections have different time limits. How many computer labs do they think schools have? If a student wants to retake two specific sections, would they have to switch rooms in the middle (to account for the fact that few other students will select the same combination)?

    It should be interesting to see if they go through with this or if this ends the same way that the SAT adversity score did.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 8926 replies333 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What are the exams intended to test? If it's college preparedness get rid of the time limits altogether and just let the students take as many sections at a time as they want.
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