ACT announced this morning that starting next September (sorry class of 2020), students can elect to take only certain sections of the test rather than sitting for the entire thing. As a parent - who's endured this process three times with my own boys - and an advisor to dozens each year, I find this to be a great move on the part of ACT.
Currently the ACT has five subsections (including the optional writing section), and to improve in just one area, a student must sit again for the entire test. Unfortunately, the fatigue and stress that this causes often results in an improved subscore in one area but a lower score in another area. So, students end up re-taking the entire test four and five times (it can be taken up to twelve times!) to improve their composite score. At a time when kids should be focusing on maintaining good grades, participating in meaningful activities, and enjoying their last months of high school, many students have this cloud of test prep hanging over them for months. Allowing students to prepare for and target one section should take some pressure off and result in better scores.
Some colleges, such as Baylor and Texas Tech for example, currently do their own superscoring, but this practice varies at each university. Starting next year, ACT will report a superscore that will represent the highest score for each section regardless of the sitting or amount of times taken. While it remains to be seen whether more colleges will move to accepting a superscore (most currently take the highest score from one sitting), studies have shown that students perform better and more in line with their college-readiness when testing each subject at a time. That makes sense. Can you imagine taking all of your college finals, in five different subjects, in one day over five hours?
The vast majority of my students who retake either the ACT or SAT are hoping to improve in one particular area, so I am fairly confident that this will relieve much of the pressure that many students face as they seek to improve scores for acceptances or even scholarships.
Cassie is an independent college consultant who is passionate about helping kids and families navigate the application process and find peace and sanity in the process. There are currently limited spots left for the class of 2020, and current juniors can take advantage of $100 off the Premier Package if they sign up by December 1st.
I am a wife, mom, and educator. I love learning and helping others learn. Few things are more rewarding than helping kids find their way.