ACT Writing Scorers Are Making MAJOR ERRORS

@Marywontlose Agreed. It’s incomprehensible that students are forced to foot the bill for the ACT’s erroneous actions. Regardless of whether you elect to pay the $50, there is a 3-month wait for the secondary review of a writing booklet. By the time they admit to their mistake, admissions decisions will be posted on the portals, and kids will collectively have paid heaps of money for an arguably moot point. If they are scoring essays incorrectly, and the problem is not about individuals, but instead the overall system, who’s to say the issue won’t repeat itself? I definitely don’t trust ACT to perform reliably now that so many people have come forward bringing their inconsistent scores to light. What we have to do is get to the root of the problem: are test scores being mixed up, is a lack of uniform training for employees to blame, or is there a much larger issue within the ACT’s organizational structure? It seems to me that this is the WORST time of year for them to test out a new format for writing. They should have anticipated problems and worked to rectify them, or at least be willing to admit to their mistakes now that they’ve been made apparent. ACT needs to be held responsible and accountable for the loss of merit scholarships, admission offers, monetary costs for rescoring, and stress and anxiety they’ve caused their clients. Because, yes, we are their CLIENTS, and regardless of whether or not they insist on keeping up the pretense of operating as a nonprofit, students PAY them to perform a service, and if they fail to deliver, they are subject to legal repercussions. I do intend to try to seek representation to bring ACT’s reputation as a nonprofit standardized test provider into question. With the compensatory damages that would be awarded in a case like this, legal professionals would be pushing each other out of the way to represent the plaintiffs.

@suzyQ7 Thank you so much for posting the link to the Essay Viewer! I’ve gotten in touch with my guidance counselor, and she said our school does not utilize the service; however, she is more than willing to register for an account. This is an indispensable tool we can use to print our essays (whether they ARE our own or they’re someone else’s mixed up with ours) and save them to our laptops to keep a copy for our records!!! The rubrics used to grade our essays should also be accessible in Essay Viewer.

@bigboy12 @Salutation If your tutoring companies had access to the new scoring guides released by ACT ahead September 2015 test, and you are ABSOLUTELY certain you prepared for the new perimeters established for this fall, then I would be suspicious. It’s one thing if you were having an off day, but it’s another thing entirely if the employees ACT claims are “trained readers” are just circling random places on the rubrics because they’re peeved about the sexist quid pro quo going on in the workplace (OH YES, I found TONS of claims about this from current and past employees!!) and their working environment is so hostile that are unable or unwilling to perform their job duties.

@quietdesperation I understand and appreciate the points that you’re trying to convey. Sometimes doctors, brokerages, banks, and accountants DO make errors. However, whether they’re “sorry” or not hardly matters when there are dead people, homeless people, broke people, and robbed people who are all victims of the aforementioned. All of these professionals must legally face up to their mistakes and pay the price; if ACT wants to receive government subsidized benefits as a nonprofit organization serving the public, then they will, too.

Thank you for your advice! I do appreciate it, and I think what you’re saying is very reasonable. However, I still intend on pursuing the matter to the best of my ability.

I’m going into dangerous waters here.

I hate to be that guy, but all the people with composite 30+ complaining that their essays were only in the 20s need to stop pointing fingers at ACT and realize that–unlike MC sections–essay scores can fluctuate wildly due to one’s familiarity with the prompt. I feel like a lot of people are upset, and rightfully so, that their score is lower than desired, but your writing ability extends far beyond this lone essay score. Because of this, it’s easy to look at someone like @niflheim000 whose score is clearly incorrect and wonder if the same has happened to you. There’s a 99% chance that this isn’t the case,and that you just didn’t write your best essay. Don’t take it so hard. Colleges care more about the essays you write for them anyway, so just nail those and forget about it. If you’re still mad and can retake, do so. However, don’t take out your frustration on ACT, it’s probably not their fault.

Best of luck OP, but everyone else needs to grow up a little and move on. It’s not the end of the world.

The good news is colleges have never paid much attention to the writing score, and now they will pay even less attention to it.

My guess is that the problem is not with the essay graders, but with the rubric system that the ACT designed for scoring the essays. It is quite possible that the rubric was poorly designed, and it is fairly obvious that at the very least it was not communicated well to test takers. But attacking the essay graders and making hyperbolic complaints doesn’t really advance your cause. It is quite likely that the graders are grading the essays exactly the way the ACT wanted them graded, and that is what you should be focusing on.

35 Composite
36 English, 36 Reading
22 Writing

I abhor bragging, and only included the above scores for context.
To be succint: In school, I am a capable writer.

Could writing scores be messed up?

I was surprisingly not a victim of the new ACT writing (32C, 31W). I would like to add that what’s also weird is that the curve for the writing section changes for each administration. So, 11/11/11/11 may be a 31 on one test (like the September one) and a 34 on a different test (the 2015-2016 Official Practice Test). It seems odd that there isn’t a uniform curve for the writing section. How is one prompt harder than another prompt?

Did everyone here get back there December writing ACT score? I didn’t.

@saadzmirza A 22 is equivalent to 8 on the old scale, which is by no means bad. When I did the old scale essay I received an 8, despite a 5 in AP Comp and a much better essay later. You’re fine.

When you go beyond criticizing the test and the system to mocking imaginary employees, you need to take a step back and calm the heck down.

my son scored a 33 composite with a 35 in English- just got his writing score and it was a 22. His last writing score from Oct test was 28. What gives? While i guess I can’t completely overlook the fact that maybe this essay wasn’t good, it just seems like something is off, as he is typically a pretty good writer and felt he wrote an excellent essay. I am going to be requesting act to re-score his writing. Has anyone here successfully challenged a writing score and had it changed?

@niflheim000 Hey, I just wanted to affirm your post by saying I’m in the exact same situation. I received a 35 on the Oct. 2015 Writing section but somehow scored a 16 this time on the Dec. 2015 administration (with all 06’s as subscores). There was no quality lapse between the two essays, so naturally I find this new result absurd.

Many colleges are changing their writing requirements for the class of 2017 to make the writing portion optional. This is because the new SAT does not include writing in the total composite scoring, and the SAT is changing to the ACT model - with writing being an add on. Colleges no longer need the ACT writing to do a straight comparison between SAT and ACT scores now that the writing is spiked out in the new SAT. I predict there will be VERY FEW colleges in future years requiring the writing portion, especially if they lose faith in the ability of these services to score accurately.

My Prediction: The scored writing as a part of the composite is dead… so writing is likely to die too. Perhaps they will request students give a writing sample at during the test (to validate abilities vs the highly edited essays within the app) but will likely ignore the scoring (IMHO). This is not helpful to the class of 2016, though.

Maybe a lot of you didn’t study the new writing format? I was initially going to go into the new writing test blind because the writing score doesn’t really matter much but then I decided to read up on the new writing test the day before the test and I found out it was totally different. I wrote my essay totally different from what I would have on the old test and I was glad I read up on it the day before.

@golfcashoahu I agree that is an awful large change in curve. I can definitely seeing a curve being more generous on a topic that is generally “harder” (i.e.: something on globalization/foreign policy) and a bit harsher on an “easier” issue a lot of students would be familiar with (i.e.: rule changes for safety in sports). From my friends who took writing in December, the topic leaned towards the “easier/more familiar” side. I think it’s definitely possible the curve was a bit harsher than October (having taken writing and knowing the topic myself), but nothing like some are saying.

Like @bodangles mentioned, seriously, take a deep breath and step back. If you’re this against working from home, I’m not sure how you’ll react to the news that many, many admissions officers (even at schools like MIT or UVA) read from home and make preliminary notes/recommendations for students from home.

While I think you have a right to see your essay and the rubric against which it was scored, your desire for wanting to figure out what is “systemically” happening by cobbling together what is the equivalent of internet water-coolers and your insistence that you are “clients” makes you come off as unreasonable. Be upset, but be reasonable.

Let's storm their headquarters.

Moderator’s note: inappropriate content deleted.

Reading this as a class of '17er makes me very uneasy. Especially when I have a good 7 days left to decide whether I want to register for the February ACT or not…I thought I would just take the ACT and not worry about the ambiguity of the redesigned SAT but it seems like that’s not a better choice with this ACT writing scandal. Will university adcoms just disregard standardized testing for the next few years until both companies can get it together or what??

I think @Archlion asked a relevant question - how many of those of you that scored poorly actually studied and practiced the new format essays using the new writing prompt? The scorers are looking for very specific things that perhaps some of you - good writers though you may be - may have overlooked (e.g., they want students to comment on 3 different points of view about a topic and either formulate their own opinion about that topic or defend one of the 3 that are given; they also want to see examples). Perhaps that’s where some of you are losing some points? (For the record, my dd scored a 36 on English, 35 on Reading, and managed to get a 34 on Writing). In her self-study program, she had looked carefully and written practice essays for two prompts that were published by the ACT (there are a few others from some test prep companies on the web), and felt that she had a good idea what the scorers were looking for.

I’m not saying that there aren’t less-than-competent scorers out there, but the fault may also lie in the writers not given the them what the scorers are looking for; it’s not just about writing well…it’s about writing well in the manner in which they want you to write.

@TheLandOfArielle You could always take the ACT without writing, so at least you have a solid composite score, then take writing later on (e.g. June or next fall) if you need it for the colleges you are interested in. Colleges might even change their requirements for our year based on all the testing changes. Also, you usually wait in a much shorter line on test day if you take it without writing :slight_smile:

And just an FYI, no lawyers will be crawling over one another to take these cases, and the compensatory damages are likely to be limited to a return of your fees…