The Student News Site of Taipei American School




Out with the old and in with the new

Revamped ACT evokes positive responses in some TAS students.

In September, the ACT college entrance exam switched from traditional paper exams to computer-based exams for tests administered outside the U.S. due to past cases of academic dishonesty.

To accommodate the adjustment to  CBT, the ACT has provided whiteboards with one side blank and one side with grid marks to use as scratch paper for the math section of the ACT. Other than this minor change, other elements of the ACT, such as calculator policy, question type and testing policies, have remained constant.

“Honestly, none of us were accustomed to the new format of the test,” said Jessica Weng (‘20), who took the first computerized ACT on Sept. 8. “I just hope that because of this, the curve is higher for the first few CB exams.”

Mr. Jeffrey Neill, Upper School college counselor, believes that the switch to CBT is positive. “The ACT and SAT have always been criticized for its slow turnover time and in the past, it would take around three and a half weeks to grade and mail tests,” he said. “But now, the ACT can send results within three days of taking the test.”

Mr. Neill further explains that due to the new format, the ACT is able to better alter their test questions to fit the needs of students. “With CBT, you can tell how long someone spends on each question. As a result, the ACT is able to do a better job of gauging question difficulty, which is one of the metrics they take into consideration.”

Like Mr. Neill, some students at TAS also find the greater efficiency and reduction in error appealing. Ashley Yu (‘20), a student also taking the first CB ACT, noted a couple of the new advantages of the ACT. “An advantage of the ACT is that for the writing section, students like me won’t have to deal with bad handwriting that exam graders can’t read,” she said. “The entire response can just be typed up.”

Even though the new format of the ACT has come with minor hiccups, Mr. Neill is optimistic about where the ACT is headed within the next few years. “For now, I can’t really give much advice on how to succeed on the ACT seeing as the CBT is a new format that’s been recently implemented, but I’m sure more about the test will be known within the next few years.”

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