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ACT Pilots First Digital Version of Its College-Entrance Exam

The first wave of students took a computer-based version of the ACT this past weekend, marking a new era in college-admissions testing.

ACT Inc., based in Iowa City, Iowa, reports that 4,000 students at schools in 23 states took the test on computer on April 12. The schools had been selected by ACT and invited to participate in the pilot. Content of the exam is the same as in the traditional paper-and-pencil version, and the new digital scores are considered official for students to submit to colleges.

"The administration went very well overall," Jon Erickson, the president of education and career solutions at ACT, said in a press statement. "As always at this stage, there were some technical issues, and we learned a great deal. We appreciate the participation of the students and high schools and their extra efforts during the process."

The move to a digital version of the test is an effort to "meet young people in the world where they already live," said Erickson. After the pilot, ACT plans to officially launch the digital version in selected states and districts in the spring of 2015, with expanded release in the spring of 2016. The option will be available only to districts and states that administer the test to all students on a school day, according to ACT officials. ACT Inc. has no plans to discontinue the paper-and-pencil version of the test, officials say, and will continue to offer it for as long as there is a demand.

As the result of research on testing methods, students who take the digital ACT are given five more minutes than in the paper-and-pencil version to complete both the reading test and the science test, adding 10 minutes total to the exam period. ACT officials may make adjustments to the time allotment after reviewing the pilot administration.

The College Board announced last month that it plans to offer a computer-based version of the rival SAT in the spring of 2016.


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