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Computer-Adaptive Version of ACT Test to be Administered in International Test Centers Starting in Fall 2017

IOWA CITY, Iowa—ACT will begin administering an online, computer-adaptive version of the ACT® test in all overseas ACT test centers starting in the fall of 2017. This computer-adaptive version of the ACT will be administered only in international test centers, not in the United States.

ACT is moving to this new computer-adaptive testing (CAT) format to enhance the experience of examinees as well as to improve test security. The use of a CAT design allows for quicker scoring and can result in an assessment that takes less time to administer. The CAT format also addresses some issues in test security by limiting the exposure of specific test questions.

“We believe the CAT design will benefit examinees, making the testing experience more positive and helping to ensure a level playing field for all test takers,” said ACT Chief Commercial Officer Suzana Delanghe. “ACT cares deeply about test security and the validity of ACT scores. While we know that the vast majority of examinees are honest, there are a growing number of parties who are regrettably seeking to undermine assessments for their own gain. These efforts hurt innocent test takers. We are taking this step partly in response to the rise in such activities we’ve seen overseas.”

Computer-adaptive tests adjust to each examinee's ability level while he or she is taking the test, so that not all examinees are given the same questions in the same order. They are designed to avoid asking many questions that are much too difficult or much too easy for the student being tested, based on the examinee’s previous answers.

ACT will be conducting a series of research studies to ensure that the scores reported for international students who take the CAT version of the ACT will be equivalent to those earned in the normal paper and online versions of the test, meaning they indicate the same level of academic achievement and predicted performance.

In 2013, ACT introduced an online version of the ACT as an option to schools participating in statewide or districtwide administration of the ACT. This online version results in college-reportable scores that are equivalent to scores from paper testing.

ACT also has considerable experience with computer-adaptive tests. The ACT Compass program employed a CAT design for more than 20 years, and ACT’s work in supporting the GMAC assessment has provided the organization with additional expertise in developing and servicing CAT systems.

“We understand the importance students and institutions place on the results of the ACT,” said Delange. “We are working hard to improve the testing experience while at the same time ensuring our tests are generating valid and reliable scores. This move to the CAT design overseas is part of our effort toward that goal.”