‘U.S. News’ Keeps ACT and SAT Scores in the Mix…for Now

‘U.S. News’ Keeps ACT and SAT Scores in the Mix…for Now

Though more and more colleges are dropping their ACT and SAT requirements, test scores still count in the closely watched college rankings many folks love to hate. But that might not hold true for much longer.

U.S. News & World Report, which published its latest Best Colleges guide on Monday, once again factored incoming students’ average test scores into its measure of “student excellence” at each ranked college despite recent calls for the publication to remove the ACT and SAT from its methodology. This year, standardized test scores were weighted at 5 percent of an institution’s overall ranking, the same as last year (down from 7.75 percent previously).

But U.S. News did change one part of its methodology in an acknowledgment of the growing number of test-optional colleges. It’s known as the 75-percent rule. Previously, the publication reduced the weight of the ACT and SAT by 15 percent for test-optional colleges with fewer than three-quarters of incoming students submitting scores. “The lack of data, for 25 percent of students or more, likely means the ACT or SAT score is not representative of the entire class,” Robert Morse, chief data strategist at U.S. News, explained in a 2016 blog post. Some enrollment officials have said the policy — which can lower a college’s ranking — penalizes institutions that don’t require standardized tests.

This year, U.S. News lowered the threshold to 50 percent: Colleges received “full credit for their SAT/ACT performance” if at least half of their incoming students submitted a score. Just 4 percent of nearly 1,500 ranked colleges did not meet that 50-percent threshold. But “many” colleges, Morse wrote in an email, fell somewhere between 50 percent and 75 percent, though he and a U.S. News spokeswoman declined to say how many “many” was.

Read the full article here. [Source Th Chronicle of Higher Education]

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ACT Adds New Fall 2020 National Test Dates to Address Students’ Need for Scores

ACT Adds New Fall 2020 National Test Dates to Address Students’ Need for Scores

ACT has added three new national test dates to its fall 2020 national testing schedule to provide more opportunities for students to earn a full ACT test score for admissions decisions, scholarship opportunities, placement, and college and career insights. These additions will help meet the demand for testing caused by COVID-19-related cancellations and social distancing requirements that limited test centers’ capacities this spring and summer. A total of eight test dates will be available for students for fall 2020 national testing.

The updated fall 2020 ACT national test schedule:

September

  • Saturday, September 12 (existing)
  • Sunday, September 13 (non-Saturday, existing)
  • Saturday, September 19 (new)

October

  • Saturday, October 10 (new)
  • Saturday, October 17 (new)
  • Saturday, October 24 (existing)
  • Sunday, October 25 (non-Saturday, existing)

December

  • Saturday, December 12 (existing)

More info/press release here

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ACT Section Retesting Postponed + Other ACT News

ACT Section Retesting Postponed + Other ACT News

From the ACT:

Our priority is to expand access to full ACT testing, particularly for students in need of a composite score for admissions decisions, scholarship opportunities, placement, and career insights. In order to do this, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the rollout of section retesting, the option to take one section of the ACT® test at a time.

“Postponing the availability of section retesting for upcoming national ACT test dates will enable us to increase testing capacity for those who need to take the full ACT test,” said ACT CEO Janet Godwin. “Our priority is to provide seats for those students most impacted by COVID-19-related capacity limitations who still need a composite score. This decision will also ease the burden on higher education professionals who are navigating their own unique challenges in response to the pandemic.”

ACT remains committed to offering superscoring and online testing options at selected national test centers this fall. We will also provide an increased number of fee waivers and additional score reports to students from underserved backgrounds. In late fall/early winter, we plan to offer a remote proctoring solution, allowing students to take the test online, at home or at other safe and convenient locations. These options will improve students’ test-taking experience and increase their opportunities for college admissions and scholarships, while setting the stage for the future release of section retesting.

Looking at September 2020 Testing & Beyond:

  • Online testing with faster score results: Students will, for the first time, have the option of online or paper testing on national test days at ACT test centers (selected test centers initially, eventually expanding to all). The test is currently administered only on paper on national test dates. Online testing offers faster results compared to traditional paper-based administration—as early as two business days, compared to around two weeks. This faster turnaround time will benefit rising seniors in particular, as they prepare to meet application deadlines.
  • ACT superscoring: ACT will report a superscore for students who have taken the ACT test more than once, giving colleges the option to use the student’s best scores from all test administrations, rather than scores from just one sitting, in their admission and scholarship decisions. ACT research suggests that superscores are just as predictive—if not slightly more predictive—of first-year grades compared to other scoring methods.
  • ACT fee waivers: ACT will offer four fee waivers to qualifying students (double the number previously offered) and an unlimited number of free score reports will be available for students who have taken the ACT with a fee waiver so they may send their superscore or scores from any individual test, even those taken previously during the ACT national test and state and district tests.
  • Remote proctoring solution: In addition to these new options, ACT plans to roll out a remote proctoring solution on a limited basis in late fall/early winter. While more information will be released at a later date, ACT is working with a trusted, reliable partner to deliver this capability in safe and secure environments beyond students’ homes.

Read the full announcement here!

 

ACT Releases June Site List and Policies

ACT Releases June Site List and Policies

The ACT finally released its list of testing sites that will be closed for the June 13 test date. Head to Applerouth for the full download.

A helpful tip +note at the end:

Students waiting to test should continue to prepare, though in a modified fashion. Continue to review relevant prep materials, though clearly with less intensity than if you were preparing for June. Students will have more time to prepare for the next official test, and research shows that students who put in more time preparing for these tests end up with higher scores.

Each subsequent test date should allow a larger portion of students across the country to complete their admissions tests. June was always going to be tough. The July ACT should allow more students to test, and the August SAT should accommodate even more students. By the fall, the vast majority of high schools and colleges in most markets across the country will likely have students on campus. At that time, administering these tests should be significantly easier. Continue to plan for your best testing outcome, even if you’ll have to wait longer than initially anticipated.

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ACT Announces “Section Retesting” & Other Changes

From Compass Education Group:

“ACT has a reputation for stodginess. Its eponymous test hasn’t had any substantial changes since 1989. Today, ACT just blew up that reputation. It announced superscore reporting, online testing on national test dates, and most radically, section retesting. The changes would go into effect starting in September 2020. EdWeek has been first to share reactions and ACT has provided a detailed FAQ, but a wide range of questions remain unanswered and we will have to wait and see how colleges respond.”

Head to the Compass website for their full (and very informative) take!

 

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Colleges That Allow Self-Reported Test Scores

Applying to college is expensive! There’s application fees, test registration fees, official score reporting fees. Some students are eligible to have these fees waived, but most students don’t qualify for waivers.

Colleges in the list compiled by Compass have stipulated that students may self-report their test scores in their applications. From Compass’ page, click on the name of the college to visit the school’s website where the policy is explained. Note: only colleges that have written policies on their websites or application materials are included in their list.

 

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SAT/ACT Writing Section? Probably Not Needed!

Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

Fellow IECA member Cigus Vanni is the master of lists. He created many that he shares with fellow IEC’s, and one sheds light on that almost no colleges continue to require or recommend the writing portion of the SAT or ACT. The biggest exception is the UC system, which still requires it.

Here’s his list as of 6/27:

Abilene Christian University (TX) – recommend

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (NY) – recommend

Augsburg College (MN) – recommend (note: Augsburg is a test-optional school)

Berry College (GA) – require ACT, neither require nor recommend SAT

College of Charleston (SC) – recommend

Duke University (NC) – recommend

 Eastern Illinois University – recommend ACT; neither require nor recommend SAT

Manhattan College (NY) – recommend; used for placement in writing courses, not for admission to school

Martin Luther College (MN) – require ACT, neither require nor recommend SAT

Michigan State University – recommend

Montana State University – recommend; used for placement in writing courses, not for admission to school

Oregon State University – recommend SAT; neither require nor recommend ACT

Rhode Island College – require ACT, neither require nor recommend SAT

Saint Anselm College (NH) – recommend (note: Saint Anselm is a test optional school)

Saint Norbert College (WI) – recommend

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania – recommend

Soka University of America (CA) – require

State University of New York at Buffalo – recommend

Texas State University – recommend ACT

United States Military Academy (NY) – require

University of California Berkeley – require

University of California Davis – require

University of California Irvine – require

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) – require

University of California Merced – require

University of California Riverside – require

University of California San Diego – require

University of California Santa Barbara – require

University of California Santa Cruz – require

University of Evansville (IN) – require (note: Evansville is a test optional school)

University of Mary Hardin Baylor (TX) – require

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities – recommend

University of Montana – recommend

University of Montana Western – require ACT, recommend SAT

VanderCook College of Music (IL) – require

Webb Institute of Naval Architecture (NY) – recommend

 

NOTE:  All information current with the updating of this list on June 26, 2019.  Be sure to check with each college to which you apply before you register for any standardized test as requirements can change.

Thank you, Cigus!

 

 

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July Action Plan – By Grade

Photo by Ryan Jacobson on Unsplash

Rising Seniors

  • As you continue your essay work, open a Common App account, and begin filling out the base data (Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities). Unlike in past years, if you open up an account now, it will not be deleted before August 1, 2019. There is no better time than now to get your CA base data completed. However, keep in mind the CA is down July 28-31 as it’s updated for the 2019-2020 app season.
  • If you’ve finished testing, it is time to review your college list and application strategy. Pinpointing your top 5 or so schools now can help you maximize your time over the summer doing research and outreach (and writing supplemental essays!). Need help with your essays? Contact us
  • If you are not finished testing, continue to prep.
  • If you have summer college visits planned, take advantage of the summer slowdown, and prepare meetings with your department of interest ahead of time. Interview if possible, too. You should always prepare for interviews, even if a school states they are not evaluative. Extended research and outreach can make a big difference in your admissions outcomes.
  • Many colleges don’t proactively ask for online resources yet, but you may have an interest in creating a digital portfolio (LinkedIn, SoundCloud, personal website, and/or blog). If you do, aim to complete it over the summer.

Rising Juniors:

  • Continue working on your resume, and think ahead about the activities in which you want to deepen your involvement in 11th grade and beyond. If there are activities you took were involved in during 9th/10th that no longer serve your or your interests, drop them.
  • Come up with a plan for test prep. Summer before junior year is a great time to begin test prep! Here are a few resources to get you started if you are not quite ready to work with a tutor 1:1: = PSAT, ACT, SAT, SAT on Khan.
  • Thinking about how to explore your academic interests this summer? I hope so! There are tons of options, and you should be doing something “academic” this summer if possible. Please note: something “academic” is not limited to a class or formal academic program. Examples of ways you can explore your interests at any time of the year = Khan AcademyCoursera or edXTed Talks or Ted-Ed.
  • Volunteer work is also beneficial. It can be helpful to choose a few volunteer engagements and stick with them through high school/12th grade, so try to pinpoint something you will enjoy and plan to stick with it.

Rising Sophomores:

  • Continue working on your resume.
  • Explore your academic interests this summer! If you are unsure what they are, that’s even more reason to get out there and do some exploring. Figuring out what you do not like is often just as important as figuring out what you do like. Please note: something “academic” is not limited to a class or formal academic program. Examples of ways you can explore your interests at any time of the year = Khan Academy, Coursera or edXTed Talks or Ted-Ed.
  • Volunteer work is also beneficial. It can be helpful to choose a few volunteer engagements and stick with them through high school/12th grade, so try to pinpoint something you will enjoy and plan to stick with it.

 

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Colleges that Allow Self-Reporting of SAT and ACT Scores

Applying to college is expensive! There’s application fees, test registration fees, and official score reporting fees. Many students are eligible to have these fees waived, but most students don’t qualify for waivers.

Colleges in the list below compiled by Compass have stipulated that students may self-report their test scores in their applications. Click on the name of the college to visit the page on their website where the policy is explained. Note: only colleges that have written policies on their websites or application materials are included here.

*Will not accept self-reported scores, but publicly states that they will accept scores submitted by the high school counselor as “official.”

Please note: All colleges require official test scores upon enrollment; these are application policies only. Students should check directly with each college to confirm they have the most recent and accurate policy information.

Source: Compass

 

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The 5 Biggest Differences Between the SAT and ACT Explained

 

Test prep is not really my thing, but it plays a big role in the college admissions process for many students. That said, be on the lookout for some testing-related guest posts in the coming months! The article below is by Nicholas LaPoma, the owner of Long Island-based Curvebreakers Test Prep.

1. Timing

Possibly the most important difference between the two tests is timing. In short, you get less time per question on the ACT. Check this out:

As you can see, you get much less time to complete any one question on the ACT. One of the most important examples is on the Reading tests. On the SAT you get 13 minutes per passage, on the ACT you get 8 minutes 45 seconds per passage. That is a huge difference! So, if you struggle with timing, the SAT is likely for you.

2. Question Distribution

The SAT and ACT have a vastly different distribution of questions in terms of subject matter. This is especially true in the Math section of the tests, as the ACT has a large amount of Geometry and Trigonometry questions and the SAT does not. The SAT is more Algebra focused.

Further, the ACT is considered an achievement test (What you learned) whereas the SAT is often considered to be a trickier, more aptitude based test (based on skills).  If you hate Algebra, and like straightforward word problems, the ACT Might be for you.

3. No-Calculator Math

A similar but important consideration is how one will handle no-calculator Math. Many students are used to punching every question and operation into their calculator and are totally reliant upon the calculator for basic multiplication and division. These students will struggle on the no-calculator portion of the SAT, as you may have to do long division. Some schools do not allow students to use calculators until a certain grade level – those students will be better equipped to tackle this section.  If you really struggle with no-calc, the ACT might be for you.

4. Science Section

As you probably know, the ACT contains a science-based section. This is actually a reading / chart reading / graph reading task, so it often correlates well with reading score. That means that the ACT is mostly based on reading skill, whereas the SAT is mostly based on Math skill.

As indicated above, the Science section actually makes the ACT a more reading based exam, where the SAT is a more math based exam.

5. Question Difficulty

The SAT is typically considered an aptitude test. It is based on your skills in each area that is tested. The acronym SAT initially stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test, proving the point. The SAT is unable to move away from its roots and become a totally achievement based exam, so many students “feel” that the questions are more tricky or difficult. If you like more straightforward questions, the ACT may be a better test for you. We find little difference when preparing students for the exams, but some students in particular find one test more appealing than the other for this reason.

 

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