What an Increasingly Difficult ACT Means to You: Scores 27-31

In previous blog post we discussed how the ACT has been changing to become more difficult in recent years. These changes of course affect everyone, but the effects of the changes on a student’s score will vary from student to student. This post will discuss the effects and the magnitude of these effects on the students who score within the upper quartile range (27-31) on the test.

The main change occurring within the ACT is the amount of time it takes to answer a single question: Questions are taking more time but there are no less questions and no extension of time limits. This translates to an increase in likelihood that a student will not be able to finish the test, being forced to guess randomly or, worse, to leave questions blank. For a student aiming to score in the upper range, leaving seven or more blank means possibly getting a mid-range score. The new curve on the ACT, which allows for more questions to be missed to achieve the same score than in the past, is less helpful in this quartile as the curve has shifted more favorably for the mid-range score section than the upper section.

What this change means for this bracket is that the changing ACT is going to negatively impact results, but only slightly. As it becomes harder to finish the test, students will have less guessing room even within the new ACT score curve. Students aiming for this range may find themselves short a point or two with the harder test and will have to implement new pacing strategies to achieve a 28 on the modern test when slower pacing would have gotten a 28 on a test in the past.

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