Testing new changes

New ACT testing policy incites joy, anger among high school students.


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The college testing and admissions process will become more convenient for high school students in September of 2020, with ACT changing its policy to allow students to retake individual test sections.

Savannah Dupper, News Editor

Cathedral Catholic High School students will find the standardized testing process easier than previous years as they enter the competitive college admissions competition next year.

American College Testing Incorporated announced this month it would allow students who want to improve their test scores the opportunity to retake individual sections of the ACT test starting in September of 2020. 

“ACT Inc. made the decision to allow students to retake individual sections of the ACT based on research findings and extensive feedback from students, parents, teachers, counselors and college admission professionals,” ACT Senior Director of Media and Public Relations Mr. Ed Colby said.

In previous years, students wanting a higher ACT score were required to take the entire test again, even if they were trying to improve only one individual section score. 

The five subsections on the ACT include reading, math, science, English and writing, which is optional. The sections are graded on a scale of 1 to 36, then scores on the four required sections are averaged into a composite score.

However, students’ highest composite scores may not accurately represent their highest subscores because they may have done worse on one individual section.

“Our research suggested that scores earned in individual section retakes are comparable to scores earned when students take the entire ACT test again,” Mr. Colby said. “And the feedback we received suggested that single section retakes would be seen as a big benefit and welcomed enthusiastically, particularly by students.

There will be no limit on the number of times a student can retake a section. Currently, just under half of examinees take the ACT more than once, and those students are most likely to retake the test only one time.”

The new policy has incited a discussion among parents, students, and educators about the true role of standardized testing in the college admissions process.

With some colleges even opting to make their admissions process test-optional, the future of standardized testing remains uncertain.

According to FairTest, the national center for fair and open testing, more than 700 American colleges do not deem it necessary and do not require students to report test scores in the admissions process.

While most students are overjoyed the ACT will allow them to retake individual sections next year, this year’s senior class feels the policy is unfair and that they were unable to reap the benefits of it.

“The new policy definitely would have helped me this year, especially trying to get those last few points to boost my score,” CCHS student Salina Voegtly ‘20 said.

“I think many of next year’s seniors, should they choose to take the single section test, will have a definite advantage over previous classes because they can improve their scores without risking other individual sections, making a perfect score much more attainable.” 

“That factor of mental exhaustion is not there anymore.” 

But according to test officials, the option to retake individual sections will not drastically alter student scores, instead, it will make the testing process cheaper and more convenient.

“The test itself is not changing; it won’t be any easier or harder,” Mr Colby said. 

“Students will still have to earn their scores. The retest scores will be comparable to the retest scores we are already seeing. Superscoring won’t provide students with higher scores than they previously earned, but rather it will share the highest scores they already received.”

“Plus, many colleges already use superscores in their admission process. So, we don’t anticipate that our new options will change the college admission process dramatically; they will simply help students better showcase their readiness.”