WASHINGTON (AP) — Greater numbers of U.S. high school students will be able to take the ACT college entrance exam on a computer next year.
The ACT announced Friday that computer-based testing will be available next year in the 18 states and additional districts that require students, typically juniors, to take the ACT during the school day. About 1 million students could be affected.
Participating schools provide the computers for testing, and ACT officials say it’s too early to predict how many schools will be ready next year to offer the online testing. Even where computer-based testing is available, ACT officials said the traditional paper test with pencil will still be an option.
The announcement follows a two-year pilot project that allowed about 10,000 high school students to take the college-placement exam by computer, laptop or tablet.
The ACT said it’s not making computer-based testing available on its traditional Saturday morning test dates largely because of the number of computers needed.
Paul Weeks, senior vice president for client relations at ACT, said the company is making the transition to online testing “thoughtfully and gradually,” so that all stakeholders can be assured that test scores on the computerized version are comparable to the paper version, which has been offered since 1959.
What won’t change? The familiar 36-point scale and the amount of time it takes for students to find out their scores, which is usually between two weeks and two months.
“There is no difference between the tests except that it’s online and that was really important to us,” said Kaitlynn Griffith, ACT’s program director.
The move to online testing is a reflection of the evolving ways students learn in classrooms and the ease at which they use computers. ACT is far from alone in making the transition to computer-based testing.
Next year, the College Board has said it will roll out the new version of the competing SAT college entrance exam and make computer-based testing an option. The SAT was once the dominant college admissions exam, but it was overtaken in popularity in 2012 by the ACT.
Follow Kimberly Hefling on Twitter: http://twitter.com/khefling