ACT: New score indicators and essay

Daniel Li, Author

Contrary to the College Board, the ACT organization has been implementing minor changes to the ACT exam throughout these past couple years, such as adding “paired passages” to its reading section in late 2014. However, this September, the major changes to the exam will include score indicators and the essay.

There will now be a “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math” (STEM) score, which is comprised of the Math and Science scores, along with an “English Language Arts” score, which will be comprised of the English and Reading scores. Additionally, a new “progress toward career readiness” score will show students where they need to improve on specific skills and a “text complexity progress indicator” will assess students’ abilities to understand complex passages.

The newly-designed ACT will
This September, changes to the ACT will include new score indicators and the essay. According to Palo Alto High School College Advisor Sandra Cernobori, the changes will not have a huge impact on the overall composite score. Screenshot by Daniel Li.

According to its website, these scores and indicators will “give students a greater and more specific understanding of both their preparation for success after high school and how to better meet their goals,” which will in turn “better inform teaching, planning and decision making.”

“The ACT STEM score is a sub score just like how right now there is an English writing sub score,” Palo Alto High School College Advisor Sandra Cernobori said. “It is basically an indicator to help students know what their strengths are in terms of English and writing, and then in math and science. Students should not fret about it too much, since it will not have a big impact on the overall composite score.”

In addition, the ACT organization will also enhance the scoring and change its approach to the optional essay. The essay will aim to encourage consideration of multiple viewpoints and will be scored on several basic criteria: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization and language use.

“The ACT essay will be more complex, as there are going to be three kinds of opinions and perspectives,” Cernobori said. “Students will be asked to read them and then analyze them as to their strengths and weaknesses and form their own position. It is a compound task and a more complex task; therefore, more time will be allocated to complete the task.”