Major changes to ACT grants freedom to retake sections

It’s too soon to tell how the changes to this standardized college admissions test will impact universities, including TU.

The most taken standardized college admissions test in Oklahoma will be allowing students to “superscore” the sections to make a higher overall score.

The ACT standardized test is well-known to many high school students as what holds an important part in deciding who will go to which university. Taken over the course of roughly four hours, the ACT consists of english, mathematics, reading and science sections as well as an optional writing section. Composite scores (or the overall score that was earned on the test) are submitted to universities along with superscores (or the combination of individual section scores from various ACT tests to create a student’s overall best score).

High school students can choose from taking a single ACT test during the college application process to the maximum of taking 12 ACT tests. The more a student takes the test, the higher probability they have of their individual scores changing as to increase their composite score or superscore.

In the near future, though, this process is going to change, allowing more freedom for high school students regarding the ACT test.

Before the ACT changes, a student would have to retake an entire exam if they wanted to raise their individual section score to increase their superscore, but now, sections can be retaken individually. For example, instead of having to retake the entire four hour exam to raise a math section score by four points, a student can solely retake the math section.

“These new options offer students more choices, a better experience and greater confidence that their ACT test scores best reflect their hard work, overall academic achievement and potential for success throughout their lives,” the ACT website says.

Besides allowing sections to be retaken individually, ACT will also begin calculating superscores as opposed to students or universities calculating the values themselves. The final change is that besides paper tests, online tests will also be offered.
These changes have the ability to morph the college application process as many admissions are decided upon using superscores. Scholarships at certain universities are also dependent upon superscores, but that is not true everywhere.

Currently, these ACT changes do not have a drastic change on the University of Tulsa, specifically with the admissions process.
“As of now, we do not plan to adjust our admission process,” Casey Reed, the Vice President of Admissions at the University, said. “We will also work with our peers and with high school counselors to monitor how the changes affect students.”

Because these changes were only announced halfway through October of 2019, it is difficult to determine how universities will adopt these changes and to what extent. It is too early to decide if admissions will change regarding superscores or even if scholarships will change.

There are some concerns that these changes will make it easier for a majority of students to have high ACT scores, that the average will greatly increase and throw off admission requirements and scholarships. A 36 superscore may not be so uncommon anymore if students can raise individual scores to achieve it. Not everyone shares these ideas, though, as these changes can have a positive effect on students.

“We applaud the efforts that testing agencies are making to remove barriers for students, but it is too early to make decisions off of these efforts until we see how they impact students,” Reed said.

At the University of Tulsa, many factors are considered in the admissions process, including cumulative grade point average, course rigor, grade trends, class rank and extracurricular activities. When it comes to standardized test scores, individual section scores are examined, but for both admissions and scholarships, ACT superscores are considered.

As more time passes with these changes being implemented, it will be more obvious how admissions processes change, if they change at all. The changes are going into effect starting with the September 2020 test.

Post Author: Myranda New