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Thoughts on the October ACT

I, too, took the October ACT, in order to refamiliarize myself with the experience and to learn more about the trends of the ACT for one of the non-released dates. I’ve also spent some time with the released tests of June, April, and December of last year, so we can get a pretty good idea of where the test is or may be heading.

One of the most noticeable impacts was in the Math section. In September’s test, the Math section contained a high number of word problems, causing many students to run out of time much more so than they normally do. October’s Math section was definitely still challenging, but because it contained far fewer word problems, most students reported completing more of the section overall. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a slight bump in scores compared to the September test.

Another noticeable impact is the Reading section – also easier than September’s test. The passages contained fairly easy vocabulary and rather straight-forward questions, with many more students finishing on time than previous tests, so hopefully this is a trend towards slightly nicer reading sections.

The remaining sections (English and Science) had less noticeable changes. The English section has held steady with the more recent trend in the last 6 months: more hard questions than before. The October test included challenging vocabulary and an increase in redundancy questions, and big variations in rhetorical questions. That said, the curve has made up for this increase in difficulty so far – sometimes allowing students to miss 4 questions and still earn a 35.

The Science section continues to remain a challenge. The last two passages on the October test were especially tough, with the Differing Viewpoints passage coming right at the end, so students who didn’t budget their time throughout the section may have failed to complete these last passages.

And one of the most interesting aspects of the trends is the later release date of scores, coming out this week instead of last. We’ll see soon whether this brings an additional score adjustment based on the difficulty of the test, or if it’s in line with the same scales as always. Either way, keep preparing and keep taking care of your health leading up to the test, and you are sure to keep improving your score!

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