Students who take the ACT Test will be given options beginning next year to help them achieve higher test scores.

ACT, the maker the ACT Test used in college admissions, announced Oct. 8 plans to introduce three new options to improve students' test-taking experience and increase their opportunities for college admissions and scholarships, according to a press release.  

Students who have taken the test will have the option beginning with the September 2020 national test to retake individual sections of the ACT test rather than retake the entire test. The test is comprised of five sections: English, math, reading, science and/or writing.  

“Students will also have the choice of taking the ACT online, with faster test results, on national test dates, and those who take the test more than once will be provided an ACT ‘superscore’ that calculates their highest possible ACT composite score,” the release states.

Many school districts across Missouri test all junior-level students. Last year the Sedalia School District 200 tested more than 300 students in April. The district pays for the cost of testing the students once. Any retests are paid for by the individual.

“With the release of the changes, we are excited to meet as a team and delve into how this will impact our students,” Sedalia 200 Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for grades 6–12 Becky Brownfield said. “With regards to the sectional retesting changes, giving students the option to focus on an area of growth will potentially provide students with a new approach to completing the ACT successfully.”

The three new options are based on feedback from students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators and higher education officials and supported by the organization's latest research and technology enhancements according to ACT.

New options include:

• ACT section retesting: For the first time in the 60-year history of the ACT test, students who have already taken the test will be allowed to retake individual section tests (English, math, reading, science and/or writing), rather than having to take the entire test again.

• Online testing with faster score results: Students will, for the first time, have the option of online or paper testing on national test days at ACT test centers (selected test centers initially, eventually expanding to all). The test is currently administered only on paper on national test dates. Online testing offers faster results compared to traditional paper-based administration — two days compared to around two weeks.

• ACT superscoring: ACT will report a superscore for students who have taken the ACT test more than once, giving colleges the option to use the student's best scores from all test administrations, rather than scores from just one sitting, in their admission and scholarship decisions. New ACT research suggests that superscoring is actually more predictive of how students will perform in their college courses than other scoring methods.

The content and format of the ACT test itself will not change. Only the administration and reporting methods will be different, the release states.

"The ACT test will remain the same valid, reliable indicator of student readiness for success in college that it has always been — one that is based on 60 years of research and measures what's taught in the classroom," Suzana Delanghe, ACT chief commercial officer said in the release. "With these changes, ACT is evolving to meet students in the digital age.

"Our research shows that ACT scores for students who take individual section tests are consistent with those earned when they take the entire test,” she added. “We are simply offering new ways to take the ACT, saving students time and giving them the ability to focus only on subject areas needing improvement."

ACT online testing is used by some states and school districts that administer the test to all students. Sedalia 200 did not have the option of using online testing. It is something the district will consider in the future, according to Brownfield.

"These new options are breakthroughs based on research and the latest technological capabilities, as the testing industry moves into the 21st century," Delanghe said. "Colleges rely on multiple measures of student readiness for success, including high school grades, courses taken and, of course, test scores. ACT scores are the best way to ensure colleges have a fair, valid and consistent standard by which to measure the readiness of students from across the country and around the world."

According to ACT, “the organization will still offer test prep services at no cost through the online ACT Academy. Students will be able to take a free practice online test to help them determine if they prefer this format or the traditional paper format.  

“ACT will continue its fee waiver program for students from low-income households, providing free testing for the entire test or for individual section tests as well as continuing to offer free test prep and free score reporting to support their college and scholarship applications.”

For more information, visit www.act.org/morechoices. Additional details about the rollout of these options, including pricing information, will be announced at a later date. 

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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