The writing portion of the ACT just got a bit more challenging. Credit: Wikimedia Commons The writing portion of the ACT just got a bit more challenging.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Just months after the College Board announced major changes to the SATs, its main competitor the ACT has unveiled an updated format of its own.

Beginning next year, the ACT will include more challenging writing prompts for the optional essay portion of the exam. The current writing section asks students to argue a side of a controversial issue (for example, students may be asked to take a pro or con position on the issue of requiring uniforms in public schools.) When the new format takes effect, test takers will be given prompts that are more complex and nuanced. The essays will then be scored according to four categories: ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, 52% of test takers chose to write the optional essay. Examples of the new writing prompts have not yet been released.

Students taking the 2015 ACT exam will also receive scores in what ACT officials call “readiness indicators,” which aim to show the student’s ability to handle college-level coursework. These include a “STEM Score,” which indicates the student’s math and science scores on the test and an “English Language Arts Score,” which will be a combination of the test taker’s English, reading, and writing section scores.


“We are constantly seeking ways to bring new and innovative features to our customers,” said Jon Erickson, ACT president of education and career solutions said in a statement. “Our goal is to continuously improve. These research- and evidence-based enhancements are designed to keep our products relevant and helpful. They will be introduced gradually and thoughtfully, so our customers don’t experience radical changes.”

Follow Lakshmi Gandhi on Twitter @LakshmiGandhi.

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