Tag Archives: subscores

While most standardized tests break section scores into smaller subscores, ACT aligns its flagship college entrance exam along Reporting Categories that serve the same general function of sorting content into discrete categories. College admissions officers show no interest whatsoever in student achievement in specific ACT Reporting Categories, but that doesn’t mean these categories have no value. On the contrary, the blueprint by which the test is designed tells us a great deal about the knowledge, skills, and strategies each section of the ACT rewards. For example, delving into the ACT Science Reporting Categories reveals a shocking truth about the test: its primary purpose is not to evaluate science knowledge. Instead, certain core skills are valued much more than discrete facts and figures. The three ACT Science Reporting Categories each focus on a specific competency area in the understanding and practice of scientific inquiry: Interpretation of Data The ACT Science Test…

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While most people focus on the big numbers on the ACT score report–section scores and Composite–there’s more to learn by digging deeper. ACT included three reporting categories each for English, reading, and science, as well as eight reporting categories for mathematics. These subscores provide more granular insight into test performance by sorting test questions into smaller categories that can be used to evaluate relative strength in specific subject areas. Why don’t we spend much time on ACT Reporting Categories? Basically, these subscores are worthless from an admissions perspective; colleges don’t care about them. However, Reporting Categories have value in terms of identifying key skills test takers should master for ACT success. In this, ACT Reading Reporting Categories can be particularly helpful. The ACT Reporting Category Interpretation Guide provides valuable insight into all of the subscores on the test. The Reading Reporting Categories fall into three large proficiencies: KEY IDEAS AND…

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ACT Reading subscores have been, at least until this year, useless. Reviewing the old English or Math subscores would at least point out areas of weakness a student could improve on. But ACT used to break down performance on the Reading test based on passage content rather than question type. Knowing you were stronger in, answering questions on say, Arts and Literature than Social Studies and Sciences provided very little in the way of actionable feedback. Today, the maker of what is very much a reading test shows a better understanding of what aspects of reading performance to expand upon: Key Ideas and Details More than half (55-60%) of the 40 Reading questions test a student’s ability to read texts closely to determine central ideas and themes, understand relationships, and draw logical inferences and conclusions. All standardized reading tests challenge the core skills of understanding the purpose of a passage…

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Once known as the college entrance exam of choice for strong math students, the ACT has always demanded both broad and deep mastery of math concepts learned from grade school to high school. The SAT may currently hold the crown for the test best suited for math whizzes, but ACT Math is tough and getting tougher. Understanding the new ACT Mathematics Reporting Category provides useful insights into the test maker’s assessment goals for this part of the test. Preparing for Higher Math Of the 60 questions on the ACT Math test, roughly 36 (57-60%) of them evaluate what is considered high school math, spanning the point where students learn to use algebra as a general way of expressing and solving equations to advanced topics in Algebra 2 and Trigonometry: Number & Quantity (7–10%) Students must demonstrate knowledge of real and complex number systems, integers and rational exponents, and vectors and…

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The ACT may serve as the world’s most popular college entrance exam, but this iconic test, in conjunction with variations designed for younger grades, fills other assessment roles as well. The ACT has been used by a number of states over the years in lieu of specific state tests to assess academic achievement and college readiness. Consequently, ACT score reports provide a lot more information than most college admissions offices pay attention to, including ACT Reporting Categories. Reporting categories, which we used to know as subscores, provide a more granular analysis of performance in each section of the ACT. Subscores were generally ignored by both colleges and students in the past, especially since they didn’t really add additional insight into performance. The one exception might have been ACT English subscores; the Usage & Mechanics vs. Rhetorical Skills dichotomy framed the differences between the science and art of effective written English…

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When the College Board returned to the old 1600 SAT scale, many felt as if order was restored to the universe. But the revised SAT introduced more than just the familiar scale. The current test provides more score information than ever before, including subscores and cross-test scores. Why the SAT added all these extra performance measurements may not, at first or even second glance, be clear. Sure, the ACT includes subscores and something like cross-test scores, but the extra data doesn’t seem to influence admissions decisions. Much of the time, schools can’t even be bothered to look at essay scores, so why would subscores matter? Consider today’s SAT a multipurpose tool. Of course, the test remains an influential college admissions test. But the College Board has charted a course towards the lucrative state testing market as well. When the organization redesigned the SAT, they had K–12 educators and counselors firmly…

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