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ACT Scores Show Slight Upswing

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The average composite score on the act Assessment, a college-admissions test taken by 1 million high-school students annually, rose by two-tenths of a point last year, the test's sponsor, the American College Testing Program, has announced.

A spokesman for the organization called the increase "not meaningful."

"Scores on the test peaked in 1969-70, then there was a fairly sharp decline through 1975-76," said Patricia A. Farrant, an assistant vice president of the 25-year-old testing organization. "Since then, scores have remained stable. They have been at a plateau."

The 1983-84 average composite score was 18.3, up from 18.1 a year ago. It has been at 18.3 three times since 1975-76.

The score is derived from students' scores on four subtests: English, mathematics, social studies, and natural sciences. The tests, scored on a scale of 1 to 36, measure students' "developed ability" in each of those subjects, rather than their general aptitude, according to Ms. Farrant.

"They are based on the content of the high-school curriculum," she said, "and there is a very strong correlation between the amount of work a student does in a subject and the student's score on our test."

The act Assessment is taken primarily by students in the Southeast, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain states.--tt

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