ACT to Offer a Computer-Based Test

In recent years, the ACT has increasingly proved itself to be a serious competitor to the SAT. The creators of the ACT, however, continue to search for ways to improve the exam; one such strategy is to launch a computer-based version of the test.

A paper-and-pencil version of the ACT will still be available for quite some time, but starting in 2015, students will have the opportunity to take a computer-adaptive version. The test-makers hope to move beyond simple multiple-choice questions to a truly interactive experience. Students will be prompted to write answers to certain types of problems and may even be asked to engage in virtual tasks. You may also want to check out how ACT scores will change in 2015.

Jon Erickson, President of ACT’s Education Division, provided several specific examples of questions that may arise, such as a science-section question that would display four beakers of chemicals and then require students to manipulate the items and mix the chemicals in order to analyze changes in density. Another example question involved students being asked to change the gas pressure of a cylindrical gas tank by adjusting a virtual plunger on the screen. Furthermore, the new test will also ask students to compose a response that describes concepts such as the relationship between distance and pressure or the relationship between temperature and pressure. Students may even have to graph these relationships.

The ACT test-makers are attempting to create more than just a basic college admissions test. They hope to develop a full testing scenario that more accurately measures how well students can think and move through problems – not just whether they can select the correct answer from a list of choices. In doing so, test-makers intend to make the ACT a better predictor of college success. Here is some great information on how the ACT is scored that you may find useful as well. If you are going to take the ACT and find yourself struggling with any section of the test, you may want to consider taking a few ACT practice tests, reviewing an ACT prep book, or seeking an ACT tutor to help you.

Along the same lines, the College Board is releasing a new version of the SAT in 2016. The SAT changes will be more related to content, although the test-makers will be introducing a computer-based option as well, in addition to the paper-and-pencil test. Yet, overall, the College Board wishes to make the SAT more practical. It will cover material that students will actually need to understand in order to complete college coursework.

The ACT has typically been viewed as a curriculum-based test when compared to the SAT, meaning that it is designed to assess the material that students should be learning in high school. In 2015, the SAT may start moving in this direction as well.

ACT Inc. also hopes to build a culture of college readiness by reaching even younger students. It plans to release computer-based tests that can track students’ development over time. The tests will measure how far above or below a grade level’s standards each student is learning. These tests could begin as early as the third grade, and ACT Inc. plans to share detailed reports with the students and their parents on the students’ testing outcomes.