Tuesday, November 8, 2011

UGA and the ACT

Over the past 8-10 years, UGA has had a huge jump in the number of students submitting ACT scores. UGA treats the ACT in the same way that we do the SAT (neither one is better or worse, easier or harder, etc.), but there still seems to be a great deal of mystery about how UGA looks at the ACT. I will try my best to give you some insight into our process.

First, UGA requires that at least one ACT Writing score be submitted to UGA for us to use any ACT scores. For both the SAT and the ACT, UGA uses the Writing score information, so if we do not have an ACT Writing score, we cannot use a student's ACT scores. We are fine if one of your ACT exams has a Writing score and one does not, as we just need one (or more) Writing scores for the ACT. But we must have at least one ACT Writing score to use any ACT scores as a whole, and we cannot use the SAT Writing as a substitute.

When we look at the ACT scores, we are one of the schools that will superscore the ACT. This means that UGA will take your highest subscores in multiple ACT exams and use these highest scores both individually and in calculating the highest composite. The ACT determines the composite by adding together the English, Math, Science Reasoning and Reading subscores, then dividing by 4 (rounding to the nearest whole number). Since the Writing section is not required by the ACT, it is not used in the Composite score by the ACT. This is how you might have a higher overall Composite score than what your individual Composite scores are. Here is a quick example:
  • ACT 1: English-28, Math-29, Science-25, Reading-26 - Composite 27
  • ACT 2: English 24, Math 31, Science 27, Reading 23 - Composite 26
  • UGA Superscore:  English 28, Math 31, Science 27, Reading 26 - Composite 28
  • As well, UGA will use the highest ACT Writing score if you have more than one score.
When UGA looks at the scores in more detail, though, we are focusing on the subscores that match the SAT scores. As such, our focus is on the English subscore, the Math subscore, and the Writing subscore, as these match up with the SAT subscores. If you have both SAT and ACT (with Writing) scores, we will then use whichever test has the strongest scores. In addition to these three subscores being a good match to the SAT subscores, there has also been research showing that these three subscores are the best ACT score predictors of student success in college. The Washington Post has a good article about this ACT issue, although they use harsher language that I would.

So when you look at your ACT results and are discussing them with other people, know that we are looking at specific subscores, and that a Composite Score does not always give the most accurate information. Here are two more examples to give you a good understanding of the situation:

  • Student A: English -29, Math -30, Science -24, Reading -24, Combined English/Writing -31
  • Student B: English -25, Math -22, Science -29, Reading -31, Combined English/Writing - 26
The Composite score for both students is a 27, but the eyes of UGA, Student A has a much stronger ACT, specifically in the English, Math and Combined English/Writing subscores. So if they both go out and state that they have a 27 ACT, that does not really give the full and accurate story.

I hope this helps a little bit in understanding how UGA looks at the ACT, and Go Dawgs!

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