ACT Writing – A New Way of Scoring

Isabelle Spelta, Writer

     This year, the SAT changed dramatically. Not only did the type of scoring change, but the way the test is formatted was changed as well. Because of this, many people began to take the ACT because it was familiar to their tutors as well as the information on the Internet. The scoring is out of 36, with questions on English, reading, science, and mathematics. There is also a writing section.

        The writing section used to be out of 36 as well, but was recently changed to out of 12. This change was sudden and unexpected, and many students did not previously know about it. When receiving ACT scores, many students have been confused and disturbed by the scores they got that were less than 12, thinking the scoring was still out of 36. The scoring also starts at 2 now.

        The writing itself and the way in which the writing is scored have not been changed at all. The scoring will still involve two graders basing the scores off of four domains (ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language use and conventions).     

        The cause of the change was based mainly on the thoughts of those taking the ACT. Before 2016, the scoring of the writing section had always been out of 12. This year, however, the scoring became out of 36. According to the ACT Chief Commercial Officer, the reason for the change back to a scoring of 2-12 was due to the confusion caused by the original change to 36. In an attempt to fix this problem, ACT further confused students who had become used to the new way of scoring. Many of these students had only experienced the scoring of up to 36, and therefore were severely caught off guard by the recent change.

        The change in the scoring of the writing section was poorly publicized and therefore unknown to most students. While it has caused immediate confusion and remorse for the old way of scoring, it will eventually be accepted. This change has presented a sense of the unfamiliar in the test that was supposed to be a safety net.