However, for parents and students, all this means is that there will no longer be a free ACT given to students at Michigan high schools in the first week of March in the spring of Junior year. Instead, students will have to take the ACT on a Saturday morning in September, October, December, February, April, or June throughout the year as most other students across the country do. See ACT Test Dates here.
The main reason NOT to panic is that this change has little to no impact on getting into college. The ACT will still be as important and meaningful for high school juniors as ever. Meaning, its primary purpose is for college entrance and scholarship opportunities for individual students (not for use in high school rankings and state evaluations/report cards.) What the MDE decided in terms of policy change should not affect how colleges and universities use a student’s ACT score. Currently, nearly every college in the country will accept the ACT and will continue to do so in perpetuity regardless of what the State of Michigan does at the high school level.
Every college and university that a student will apply to will still accept the ACT. Let me re-emphasize, the only thing that has really changed is that the ACT will no longer be given at school the first week of March. Therefore, colleges and universities in MICHIGAN, and Indiana, and Illinois, and Ohio (and all other 46 states) will continue to use ACT scores to determine admission and scholarship money (just as every college in the country will also use SAT scores for the same purpose).
The ACT has never been more popular nationwide in terms of using it as the standardized test for college entry. In fact, more American students now take the ACT than the SAT (see Washington Post article), and many of those students reside in states that do not offer the opportunity to take a free test during the school day at their high schools.
The beauty of this bicameral college entrance exam system lies in the fact that students can take two completely different tests to help them earn a score that could unlock a door to admission at a desired college. College bound students should take BOTH the ACT & the SAT and figure out which test they can score higher on, based on the conversion scale called the ACT/SAT Concordance. Nearly every college evaluates a student's admission on whichever test score is higher, whether it be ACT or SAT.
But, when a state like Michigan only promotes one test, on one given test date per year, it can give parents and students the false impression that only one test on one single day in March is the only one that matters. In fact, I’ve already had multiple parents of students (currently or formerly enrolled in my ACT Prep Courses) contact me concerned because they believe that Michigan colleges aren’t going to accept the ACT anymore. I don’t think I can emphasize this enough – the belief that the ACT is no longer relevant or useful in the state of Michigan couldn’t be further from the truth.
In terms of the SAT, or the “New” SAT, starting in 2016, the state has simply decided to replace its free ACT test given in March at school with a free SAT test given at school as part of the standardized testing for the Michigan Merit Curriculum or M-Step.
With regard to the SAT, the College Board will continue to give the current version of the SAT through 2015. So, if you are currently studying to take it and/or currently a junior, keep practicing the SAT in its current form. If you are planning on taking the SAT in 2016 or after, then you will need to wait until the College Board releases all of the relevant information (including full practice tests) regarding the new SAT 2016 format. In an upcoming blog, I will discuss in detail what we know (so far) about the changes ahead for the new SAT. It is expected that this fall’s PSAT, given in October, will be the first formal test given in the new format.
The changes in the SAT and the comparison between the SAT and ACT (and how colleges interpret those scores) will be just a few of the topics discussed in greater detail as part of my College Prep for Parents Webinar scheduled for March 15. If you have questions about the tests or about college preparation, including the college application process, you would find it beneficial to enroll in this important Webinar.
For more information about my ACT and SAT prep courses (both in-person and in webinar format), visit www.drcarlinstestprep.com. And, as always, check out our free College Prep Trail Guide for downloadable guides, helpful article links, and guideposts from 8-12 grade to ensure that your student is college ready.
In the meantime, let’s allow broken hearts to heal and try our best to rise above the gossip. The SAT may be in a new relationship with the Great Lake State, but the ACT will no doubt rebound quickly.