A.C.T. Assessment To Be Substantially 'Enhanced'

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The American College Testing program in January will begin mailing information kits to high schools about what it is calling "the Enhanced act Assessment."

The kits will describe forthcoming changes in the standardized college-admissions test, which officials say is undergoing significant changes on the basis of a five-year research effort.

The revised test will no longer contain social-studies and natural-sciences sections; they will be replaced by sections on reading and science reasoning.

The English and mathematics sections will remain, but there will be a new emphasis on writing and problem-solving skills, said David S. Crockett, the act's vice president for public affairs.

"What we are trying to do is have the test reflect what is really being taught in high school and measure skills that colleges said are important," Mr. Crockett explained.

The act was taken by more than 1 million college-bound students4last year; it is the predominant college-admissions test in 28 states. The Scholastic Aptitude Test, administered by the College Board, was taken by 1.5 million students and is predominant in 22 states.

Both testing organizations have seen a need to provide educators with more help in using test results for academic counseling and course placement. That was a major reason for the research that began on the act five years ago, its officials say.

The College Board cited similar concerns this year when it embarked on a review of the sat

Both tests have also been attacked as biased against women and minorities, but Mr. Crockett said the act was not being revised in response to such claims.

The social-studies and natural-sciences sections of the act were dropped because they were of limited use to educators, Mr. Crockett said, and the skills involved could be woven into the new reading and science-reasoning sections.

The test will be lengthened by 15 minutes, to 175 minutes, and the8number of multiple-choice questions will be reduced from 219 to 215.

The reading test will comprise four passages in the areas of fiction, the humanities, natural science, and social studies.

The content of the science-reasoning test will come from biology, chemistry, physics, and the physical sciences. Advanced knowledge will not be necessary because the section will stress reasoning skills, according to officials.

The English test will feature an increased emphasis on writing skills and style, while the math test will have more trigonometry.

The act will also provide more subscores. The English test will have subscores in rhetorical skills and usage and mechanics; the math section will have subscores in beginning algebra, intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry, and plane geometry and trigonometry; reading subscores will be provided in fiction, humanities, social studies, and natural sciences.

The new act will be given for the first time next October. A test for sophomores, the p-act+, was given in the new format last year.

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