By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY
As early as spring 2015, ACT college admissions exams will be
available digitally, the tests' provider said Monday, allowing students
to see their results within minutes, not weeks, of clicking "submit" on a
laptop, iPad or other digital device.
The results now typically take two weeks, and sometimes as much as four to six weeks.
1.7 million students took the ACT last year. It was one of two dominant
tests high school students take as part of their college applications.
Roughly the same number took the rival SAT. Those exams are still
administered with No. 2 pencil and paper.
Several states already
use computers for statewide tests, and Iowa-based ACT works with 22 of
them, from Alaska to Florida. But testing in Kentucky was suspended last
week after ACT officials discovered glitches. Problems with other
vendors forced Indiana, Minnesota and Oklahoma to delay their
That is partly why ACT is not rushing to
start online offerings for the tests, which help determine whether
applicants get into their chosen schools and what scholarships they
ACT officials told the Associated Press that the
traditional, 215-question fill-in-the-bubble tests still would be
available for those who prefer the paper-and-pencil option.
and comfort level of students will continue to be on the top of our
mind," said Jon Erickson, president of ACT's education division. "We
don't want to measure a student's computer skills or fears. The most
important part will be measuring their learning in school and college
The new testing format - still two years
away and optional even then - comes as 45 states and the District of
Columbia align their classrooms with Common Core standards, which stress
students' reasoning skills over rote memorization. The ACT, which is
designed to test students' high school learning, naturally follows the
shift in classroom instruction.
"Hopefully, this will be more
relevant than just sitting down and taking a fill-in-the-bubble test,"
Erickson said. He acknowledged that several details have yet to be
finalized, including whether students will be able to bring their own
devices on test day. But he said the new tests will still have the
familiar sections to measure students' English, math, reading and
science understanding, as well as the optional writing section that some
Founded in 1959, ACT originally stood for
"American College Testing." In 1996, the official name of the
organization was shortened to "ACT."