The ACT: A Different Test, Not a Better Test

for further information: Christina Perez (857) 350-8207
Bob Schaeffer (941) 395-6773

for immediate release, Tuesday, August 14, 2001

As college admissions test manufacturers begin releasing the average scores of this year’s high school graduates, a new fact sheet released by the National Center for Fair & Open Testing demonstrates that the ACT exam shares many of the same flaws as the SAT, its chief competitor.
“The ACT was developed as an alternative to the SAT, but is just a different test, not a better one,” explained Christina Perez, FairTest’s University Admissions Testing Reform Advocate. “Like the SAT, the ACT has long-standing problems of bias, inaccuracy, coachability, and misuse.”
Among the ACT’s weaknesses cited by FairTest:

– Test scores are directly related to family income; the richer students’ parents are, the higher are their average scores;

– The test is only a weak predictor of first year college grades — despite “grade inflation,” a student’s high school performance is a better forecasting tool than the ACT;

– The exam does a particularly poor job of predicting college performance for females — who earn higher grades than males, despite lower ACT scores — and students whose first language isn’t English, who are disadvantaged by the test’s format;

– ACT scores can be boosted through coaching programs, some of which are even sold by the test-maker; and

– The ACT is widely misused through minimum score requirements for admissions and college scholarships, which violate the test-makers own guidelines for proper use.

“Due to these flaws, no test — neither the ACT nor the SAT — should be required in the college admissions process,” concluded FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “Recognition of that fact is a major reason why so many colleges are joining the growing ‘test- score optional’ movement.” FairTest has compiled a list of nearly 400 colleges and universities that do not require some or all of their applicants to take the ACT or SAT prior to admission.

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