The ACT® is changing some of its format beginning in September of 2015. The main changes to the ACT test involving the four sections (English, mathematics, reading, and science), won’t impact the difficulty of the test or how it is scored. However, the changes will affect how students view the new scores.

Students will now be able to gain more insight on their performance in each individual section. This will help all students break down individual areas where they can improve their score if they decide to retake the ACT test. Along with more in-depth breakdowns of their subjects, students will now be able to see four new sub-scores that do not necessarily contribute to their composite score, including:

  • A STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) score. This will help students assess their strengths and weaknesses in these areas, and how they might be able to utilize their strengths for college and a future career. This will include Math score plus Science score.
  • An English language (ELA) score that will allow students to compare their score with others. It will consist of their English score plus Reading score plus Writing score.
  • A Progress toward Career Readiness Indicator. This will help students assess their career readiness and provide measures for foundational work skills and be an indicator for future scores on the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (ACT NCRC).
  • A Text Complexity Indicator. This will show students how well they understand complex texts that they will see in college and possibly their future careers. It will be based on their writing performance.

Another change that is happening in Fall of 2015 is to the ACT Writing Test. The optional writing test will be based off of a single prompt and introduce one issue and three differing perspectives. Students will be asked to evaluate and analyze those three perspectives, state and develop their own perspective, as well as explain the relationship your perspective has with the three that are given. Students are now given 40 minutes to answer the question instead of the previous 30 minutes. If you are planning on taking the writing test, be sure that you study the new prompts so that you are prepared for any changes. You can view a sample of the new Writing Test and changes to the scoring here.

Your Writing Test score will be scored on the same 2-12 scale and does not affect your overall composite score; however, you will now receive four sub-scores, including:

  • Ideas and Analysis
  • Development and Support
  • Organization
  • Language Use

Along with the changes to the test itself, ACT is also adding intuitive testing tools provided on desktops and laptops starting in Spring of 2016, including:

  • Answer Eliminator Tool
  • Flag Button
  • Review Button
  • Magnifier Tool
  • Onscreen Clock

Since the ACT can sometimes change every couple of years, it is also important to stay up-to-date with new study materials and testing strategies. Be sure that when you are looking for practice tests and offline study booklets that you are buying the newest versions. Studying one to three months in advance will typically be your best chance of scoring as high of a score as possible.

Get the best score on the ACT: See practice testssample questions, and Peterson’s ACT Guide.