The SAT may always spring to mind as the iconic college admissions test, but more and more teens think about the ACT when test time rolls around. How and when did the ACT become so popular? Read on for six of the most important moments in ACT history.
The American College Testing Assessment is created by Everett Franklin Lindquist in response to the SAT as an alternative college admissions and placement test. The ACT is perceived as being more of a test of accumulated knowledge and reasoning skills than of logic and test-taking skills. In fact, this new standardized test is launched to counter the SAT’s emphasis on cognitive reasoning. The American College Testing Program’s headquarters in Iowa City helped the exam gain traction in the middle and southern states, both filling a need and addressing a criticism of the SAT, which had a stronghold on the coastal states. 75,460 students take the first ACT test.
Students taking the ACT annually surpasses one million.
The ACT undergoes its first major revision. The exam stops measuring factual knowledge of social studies and the natural sciences, adopting instead a new Science Reasoning test that uses graphs, tables, summaries of research and other means to measure how well students can deal with scientific concepts presented to them. Other changes included the expansion of math topics to include trigonometry and a passage-based English section designed to test rhetorical skills as well as grammar and usage.
An optional Writing Test is added to the ACT, which increases the total time to take the test to 3 hours and 25 minutes. Interestingly, the College Board added an essay to the SAT at the same time and received tremendous criticism. ACT escaped scrutiny entirely, perhaps because the test maker made the essay optional rather than mandatory.
Harvey Mudd College accepts ACT scores for the first time, making the ACT the first admissions test accepted at every four-year college in the United States. Up to this point, the ACT was still more widely accepted than the SAT, though the latter test was more widely taken.
More and more students embrace the ACT, in large part because of the negative public response to the changes in the SAT. For the first time the number of students taking the ACT exceeds those taking the SAT.