What an Increasingly Difficult ACT Means To You: Scores 31+

In the 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 highest range (31-36) on the test.

The change in difficulty has to do with the change in the types of questions, not quantity of questions or time limit. These new types of questions take more time to answer than their ancestors back in 2006. If not careful, a capable student can fail to finish the test. In this score range, missing only 5 problems can put you underneath a 31, so if students were unable to finish and forced to guess on two questions, then out of the rest of the questions they completed, they can only miss three. This means that the new test leaves a student with less time and no proportional adjusted room for error, making it harder to score in the highest range and generating an inflated number of more average scores (26-29).

Students aiming for these high scores can expect to achieve the about the same level of accuracy as students in the past with more complex questions, which means the ACT’s evolution has significant negative consequences for this category. Students of this category will have little to no room for error on each section, so students will have to be even more rigorous with their pacing and test-taking strategies if they wish to maintain as little errors as possible on a increasingly complex test.

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