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New ACT rules could aid in higher scores

High school students now have the opportunity to increase specific areas of their ACT score after a new ruling makes it available for students to retake individual subjects on the test.

Beginning with the September 2020 ACT test date students who have taken the ACT once, which includes all juniors in public schools in Alabama, who aren’t satisfied with their score on one or more of the sections of the test can choose to retake individual sections instead of having to take the entire thing over.

Individual sections scores can be then added into a “superscore,” which can raise the students overall composite score, helping them earn scholarships. It’s unclear whether all colleges accept superscores, but ACT, in the announcement, said superscores will be reported.

ACT prep tutor Dawn Thompson said this ruling is a wonderful opportunity for students.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity because sometimes students will get a high score in three out of four of the subjects, then they take it again and raise the weak area, but then the other areas will slip,” Thompson said. “However, this is only going to be helpful if the college they plan to apply for accepts the superscore.”

Not only could it be an advantage for students to raise their score, Thompson said it could help students with placement tests.

“The immediate advantage that it would have is that if they are struggling in math, and if they don’t do well on the ACT they are going to have to take remedial math, they can focus on the individual section and raise it enough to where they don’t have to take that remedial math,” Thompson said. “It will also be a huge advantage for the schools that accept a superscore.”

The ACT test has five sections: reading, English, math, science and writing. The maximum score for each section is a 36, except for writing, which is scored out of 12 points. The composite score is a combination of all scores except writing, and the highest score is also a 36.

For the first time, the ACT can be taken online in an official testing center rather than on paper, though both options will be available for students. ACT officials said test results will be available quicker for those taking online tests.

“This is another thing that is going to be big for students,” Thompson said. “Just to be able to get your results in, let’s say two days, could make a huge change on scholarships and admittance to some schools.”

Alabama has been testing all 11th-graders since 2015 and is one of only 19 states that gives the test to all public school students.

The composite ACT score for the class of 2018 was 19.1, the same as it was in 2015 and 2016 and down one-tenth of a point from 2017’s 19.2.

Nationally, 55 percent of graduates took the test, and the composite score was 20.8, the same as it was in 2016, but down two-tenths of a point from 2015’s and 2017’s 21-point score.

The highest score possible on the ACT is 36, and only 40 of the 58,177 Alabama students who took the test in 2018 hit that target.