Sep 7, 2012

Local Students Increasingly Turn to the ACT

University of Richmond
The ACT continues to grow in popularity and importance as a tool for determining college and career readiness, according to the recently-released Condition of College & Career Readiness 2012 report.

While national scores remain basically static, the number of high school students taking the ACT in 2012 increased for the eighth consecutive year.  More than 1.66 million 2012 graduates—52 percent for the entire U.S. graduating class—took the ACT, including virtually all students in nine states.  

And DC area students are leading the charge.  Over the past five years, the number of students taking the ACT in Maryland has risen by 24 percent to 13,334.   In Virginia, the numbers have dramatically risen from 11,519 in 2006 to 21,647 or about 25 percent of the Commonwealth’s high school graduates in 2012.

Why would this be? Perhaps it's because the test is considered by many to be more “consumer-friendly” than competing College Board products. And at an increasing number of colleges, the ACT with Writing may be substituted for both the SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests—saving the test-taker time, money, and aggravation.

But more important to college applicants is the fact that virtually every college and university in the country will accept either the ACT or the SAT. Because the tests are interchangeable, students may elect to submit scores from whichever test they choose—usually the one on which they scored best.

In fact, they are increasingly choosing the ACT.  In 2006-07, only 14 percent of all University of Richmond freshmen submitted ACT scores. Last year, 41 percent provided ACT’s, according to Common Data Set information on the Richmond website. During the same period, the percent of freshmen at the College of William & Mary submitting ACT’s went from just 4 percent to 36 percent.

At American University, more than half of all enrolled freshmen—50.4 percent—submitted ACT scores last year. And 43 percent of the freshmen at Johns Hopkins provided ACT’s.

The ACT is a first cousin to the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, which many of us took in grade school (long before computers were used to score them). It is a “curriculum based” achievement test designed to measure the skills necessary to succeed in college-level work.

For those keeping count, our area continues to score very well on the ACT. Virginia’s average composite score increased from 22.3 to 22.4, well above the national average of 21.1. The average composite in Maryland remained constant at 22.1, and in DC, the average was 19.7. Subscores in Maryland and Virginia were very similar, with Virginia scoring slightly higher in all areas except English.

And somewhere in the DC region, 14 students earned perfect composite scores of 36—six in Maryland, seven in Virginia, and one in the District of Columbia.

For more a more complete summary of ACT national and state test results, visit the ACT website.

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