Starting in September 2020, high school students will be able to retake only sections (reading, math, science, English, and the optional writing section) of the ACT when they seek to improve their scores rather than sitting through the three-hour test for the second, third, or fourth time. ACT, the company behind the college entrance exam recently announced this major shift in how the test is scored or, more accurately, superscored. Some colleges and universities already superscore the ACT to create composite scores that capitalize on the top scores students receive in the different sections of the test, but students could never just report individual section scores from retakes; they had to report the entire score. Sometimes, students would perform poorly on a section where they previously performed well, so this could create anxiety for students when they weren’t sure how those scores would be viewed or used by schools. According to ACT officials, starting in September 2020, “students will get a new ‘superstore’ that combines their highest scores on the subsections from each time they took the test.” This development has some higher education professionals concerned that the gap between the haves and have-nots, when it comes to test prep access and affordability, could widen. After all, if students can isolate their section preparedness to achieve top scores, what is to prevent them from seeking even more customized test prep from professionals? This might create more disadvantage for students who don’t have the resources to leverage in the pursuit of stellar subsection performance. ACT admits that it is not sure how the new scores will be interpreted or utilized by colleges, but it seems pretty clear that the test prep game will certainly see some changes.


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