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ACT Hones Scoring System After Claiming Lead in College Exams

ACT, the most popular college admissions exam, is adding more subscores for science, technology and career readiness after criticism that the tests have lost relevance in predicting college success.

ACT will also change its optional writing exam beginning next year to better assess analytical skills and college preparedness, ACT Inc., based in Iowa City, Iowa, said today in a statement.

While the changes aren’t the sweeping redesign introduced in March by the rival SAT, ACT’s announcement illustrates the heightened competition between the two. SAT, owned by the New York-based College Board, will make its essay optional beginning in 2016 and remove a penalty for guessing, making the test more similar to its competitor’s. Last year, ACT overtook SAT in the number of students taking its exam.

“The ACT will continue to be the tried-and-true achievement exam that students, colleges and states have trusted for more than 50 years,” Wayne Camara, ACT senior vice president of research, said in a statement. “We are simply expanding the information that we provide to give students a better, clearer map of the road to success.”

ACT said it will offer a combined score for a student’s performance in science, technology and math. It will also provide an indicator for career readiness.

ACT reported 1.8 million test takers last year, compared with 1.66 million for SAT. Thirteen states are paying for the ACT this year as a statewide assessment.

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