ACT Test Security and Identification Enhancements for 20122013
ACT, Inc.a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace successis implementing additional safeguards to further ensure ACT score integrity and meet students in the advanced technological world in which they live today.
ACT is committed to providing students a fair and equal opportunity to demonstrate their independent academic achievement, and we review preventive measures on an ongoing basis to ensure every reasonable effort is made to deter and detect potential compromises to test security while still enabling the greatest possible access for students. The new procedures are a part of this ongoing effort.
The following enhancements will safeguard a level playing field for all test takers and help ensure the continued integrity of ACT score results:
- Students will upload or otherwise submit (via ACT website, mobile device, or mail) a recognizable head-and-shoulders photo of themselves when registering for the ACT.
- The photo will be printed on the student's ticket, which the student will be required to bring to the test center in order to be admitted.
- The student's photo will also be printed on the examinee roster that testing staff use to check in students on test day.
- In addition to their ticket, students will be required to bring and present an acceptable photo ID on test day.
- On test day, test center staff will match the name and photo on the student’s ticket, the test center roster, and the student’s photo ID to the student who arrives to take the test before granting the student admission.
- In addition to submitting a photo, students will provide ACT with their gender and identify the name of the high school they attend. ACT will use this information to help match the examinees identity throughout the testing process.
- Both before and after testing, students will provide written affirmation that they are the person whose name appears on the test booklet and answer sheet which they have submitted. They will also acknowledge that assuming anyone elses identity to take the test may be a violation of law and be subject to legal penalty.
- ACT may visit test centers to conduct additional test security measures on test day, such as collecting images of examinees during check-in and/or other security activities.
- After tests have been scored, the students photo will be printed on the score report that will be automatically sent to the high school attended by the student. Score integrity can then be reinforced by the people who know the students bestthe teachers and counselors at their schools.
- To deter attempts to circumvent these procedures, students (including those who hope to test on a standby basis) will be required to register their intent to test and will not be allowed to make any test center or test date changes on the day of the test.
ACTlike the vast majority of studentsunderstands the importance of honest test scores. We also know the importance of ensuring that students maintain access to the educational opportunities which the ACT test provides. Our enhanced procedures will help us continue to achieve both objectives.
Current Implementation Status
We have enhanced our test security measures for the ACT this year and are working hard to ensure that the system meets the needs of all involved. The following layers of test security are in place for all future 2012–2013 test dates:
To be admitted to test, students MUST have:
- a printed copy of their ticket.
- an acceptable photo ID.
- their name on the roster at that test center for that test day.
- the same name (first and last) on the ticket, ID, and roster.
Additionally, while standby testing is still an option, students can no longer show up on test day and take the ACT. They MUST register their intent to test on a standby basis by completing an online request no later than the Monday before the test. Paper registration folders are not accepted at the test center.
ABOUT THE PHOTO: When they register, students are required to provide a photo. A photo can be uploaded from the web, or an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Android mobile device. Photos must be provided by the photo deadline for each test date. If students miss the photo deadline, their registration will be cancelled and they will not be admitted to test.
If a registration is cancelled for failure to provide a photo, the student's registration fee will not be refunded. The student may, however, request a test date change. For April 2013, students who are cancelled for not providing a photo may contact ACT to change their test date at no additional charge. A photo must be provided for the new test date.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why did ACT decide to make these changes?
- Did ACT make these changes in reaction to the situation in Long Island, New York, where an impersonation ring was discovered and students involved in the ring were arrested?
- Why is this the best solution to deter impersonation attempts and improve test security?
- Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT internationally?
- Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT as part of required state- or district-administered testing on a school day?
- Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT at a college or university campus through residual testing?
- Will these changes increase the cost of taking the ACT?
Questions about the Photo Requirement
- Why are the photo upload requirements so strict?
- What will ACT do with the examinee’s photo?
- What will be done with the photos after ACT has used them?
- What about students who don’t have a photo of themselves or don’t have the ability or capability to upload a photo? Won’t these changes prevent them from taking the ACT?
- What happens if kids don't have high-speed internet access at home...or any internet access for that matter?
- What provisions are ACT making for students whose religious beliefs prohibit having a photo taken?
Registration and Test Center Procedures
- Students will have to present a photo ID on test day in addition to the photo that will be printed on their ticket. What types of photo IDs will students be allowed to use?
- Do the upcoming changes mean that all students will now have to register online, instead of by mail?
- Will these changes mean that students will no longer be able to take the test on a standby basis?
- What would prevent a student from uploading someone else’s photo when they register and then having that same person show up on test day with a fake ID?
- Does ACT plan to add more test center staff to handle the changes on test day?
- Will ACT test center staff be trained on the new requirements?
- Will high schools be required to check the photos on students’ ACT score reports to verify the students’ identity?
- Do high schools currently receive score reports for each of their enrolled students who take the ACT?
- Will student photos be included in score reports sent to colleges for admission purposes?
Q. Why did ACT decide to make these changes?
A. These new enhancements were designed to improve our ability to detect and deter impersonation attempts, where an individual engages someone else to take the test in his or her place. Test security is a vital concern for ACT, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our procedures. Our goal has always been to safeguard a level playing field and give every student who takes the ACT a fair opportunity to demonstrate his or her own academic achievement.
Q. Did ACT make these changes in reaction to the situation in Long Island, New York, where an impersonation ring was discovered and students involved in the ring were arrested?
A. We have long had security procedures in place to help detect incidences of surrogate test takers, and we believe those procedures have been effective in exposing such cases. But advancing technology requires us to be constantly vigilant in our security efforts. Subsequent to the Long Island case, ACT established a specific task force to study the issue and identify potential ways to improve our procedures without unduly limiting access to the exam. The enhancements that we are implementing grew out of the work of that task force.
Q. Why is this the best solution to deter impersonation attempts and improve test security?
A. The enhancements we are implementing will provide additional layers of test security to help deter and detect impersonation attempts. We will incorporate technology familiar to young people without unduly limiting access to the test and the benefits it provides. And these enhancements will lay the groundwork for future test security procedures, as technology advances further.
Q. Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT internationally?
A. The new list of acceptable photo IDs and the new procedures for standby testing will apply to students testing internationally starting on the first 20122013 international test date in October. The ability to upload a photo will be available for students testing internationally, but providing a photo will not be required in all countries immediately. We are continuing to work out the details of our implementation plan and cannot yet give a specific date on which providing a photo will be required internationally.
Q. Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT as part of required state- or district-administered testing on a school day?
A. The new registration requirements will not apply to students who take the ACT as part of required statewide or district-wide testing. In those cases, students do not pre-register for the ACT, and the test is administered in the classroom by the students teachers. Many other test security measures are in place for these types of testing.
Q. Will these changes also be made for students who take the ACT at a college or university campus through residual testing?
A. No, the new registration requirements will not apply to residual testing at this time. Students do not pre-register for residual testing.
Q. Will these changes increase the cost of taking the ACT?
A. No. The costs of these changes will not be passed along to test takers. As a not-for-profit organization, ACT is committed to keeping costs to students as low as possible. Test registration fees typically rise slightly from year to year due to increases in costs associated with producing, distributing, and scoring the tests, but those increases have not and will not be affected by the new registration procedures.
Questions about the Photo Requirement
Q. Why are the photo upload requirements so strict?
A. For photos to be used to identify the student, they need to be clear pictures that allow others to easily identify the person in the photo. Some photos that are submitted may look fine in a larger image, but in fact are too fuzzy once compressed to fit onto an admission ticket, roster or score report. To accommodate such photos, ACTs photo upload system applies facial recognition technology to photos submitted, so that students know before they show up on test day whether the photo will be sufficient to identify them once printed on a roster or high school score report.
Q. What will ACT do with the examinees photo?
A. ACT will use the photo during the testing process for enhanced identity matching purposes. Testing staff will have the photo printed on their test day roster so they know who to expect to arrive for testing. High schools will receive the photo with the examinees score report, so they can reinforce the identity match after testing.
Q. What will be done with the photos after ACT has used them?
A. ACT will keep the photos in a secure, encrypted database to which only we will have access. ACT will retain the photos for a period of time consistent with active use of test scores and test security needs. The photos will not be used for any purpose other than for identity matching.
Q. What about students who dont have a photo of themselves or dont have the ability or capability to upload a photo? Wont these changes prevent them from taking the ACT?
A. No. ACT is committed to making certain that access is not unduly hampered by these changes. While our research and other reliable statistics show that the vast majority of young people have access to the web through computers or handheld devices such as tablets and smart phones, ACT is well aware that a small percentage of students do not have such access. For that reason, students who cannot upload a photo electronically will be allowed to mail their photos in to ACT along with a photo submission form. It is very important to us that all students have access to the ACT and the benefits it provides.
Q. What happens if kids don't have high-speed internet access at home...or any internet access for that matter?
A. ACTs photo upload system doesnt require high-speed internet. Basically, if a registrant can upload a photo to Facebook®, they can upload a photo to ACT. The photo needs to be a clear picture of the test taker and meet the same general requirements as a passport photo. That means a head and shoulders photo against a plain background. Additional requirements can be found at http://www.actstudent.org/regist/add-photo.html.
Q. What provision is ACT making for students whose religious beliefs prohibit having a photo taken?
A. ACT's processes accommodate those students. Students who wish to apply for an exception due to religious prohibitions should call ACT at 319.337.1833 to discuss their individual situation as early in the process as possible and no later than the registration deadline for their desired test date. Note: If a student has any photo identification (school ID or government issued like a drivers license) or a photo in any school publications (e.g., newspaper or yearbook), the student is not eligible for an exception from ACT's photo requirements. (** Updated 10 August 2012 **)
Registration and Test Center Procedures
Q. Students will have to present a photo ID on test day in addition to the photo that will be printed on their ticket. What types of photo IDs will students be allowed to use?
A. The only IDs that will be accepted on test day are a government-issued photo ID (such as a drivers license or passport), a school identification card or letter that includes the students photo, or a notarized statement with a photo of the student. All IDs must be in English.
Q. Do the upcoming changes mean that all students will now have to register online, instead of by mail?
A. No. Students will still be allowed to register by filling out the paper registration form by hand and mailing it to ACT (although the vast majority of students now register online). We have provided instructions in the register-by-mail packet on how to provide a photo with the paper registration.
Q. Will these changes mean that students will no longer be able to take the test on a standby basis?
A. Standby testing will still be an option, but changes have been made in that process as well. Students will no longer be able to simply show up on test day and take the ACT. They will need to register their intent to test on a standby basis by completing a standby request online no later than the Monday before the test date. Standby test takers will be required to follow the same procedures as all other test takers, including providing a photo to ACT prior to test day and presenting a standby ticket that includes that photo.
Q. What would prevent a student from uploading someone elses photo when they register and then having that same person show up on test day with a fake ID?
A. Security is most effective when provided in layers. That’s why ACT will rely on more than just the identification match when students arrive to take the test. We will also print students’ photos on the score reports sent to high schools and use other tools to help detect and deter potential impersonation attempts. The new procedures will make successfully impersonating another student much more difficult.
Q. Does ACT plan to add more test center staff to handle the changes on test day?
A. ACT will work with test centers to ensure that the new test day procedures run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We dont anticipate that additional staff will be required.
Q. Will ACT test center staff be trained on the new requirements?
A. Yes. ACT will implement additional enhanced online training sessions for testing staff that will focus on the new test day procedures.
Q. Will high schools be required to check the photos on students ACT score reports to verify the students identity?
A. High schools are encouraged to check the photos on student score reports and to report any concerns regarding a students identity to ACT.
Q. Do high schools currently receive score reports for each of their enrolled students who take the ACT?
A. In the past, ACT sent students’ score reports to their high school only if the students authorized us to do so. (More than 90% of students released their scores to their high schools.) It will now be an important facet of ACT’s test security policies to automatically send a score report to the student’s high school.
Q. Will student photos be included in score reports sent to colleges for admission purposes?
A. No. ACT does not plan to include photos with score reports sent to colleges at this time. The student photos will be printed on score reports sent to the high school attended by the examinee, not to colleges.