Starting as early as the spring of 2015, students will have the option of taking a computerized version of the ACT, instead of the traditional paper-and-pencil version of the test. Jon Erickson, the president of ACT's education division, told the Associated Press recently about the move towards digital delivery, indicating that students will still have the option of choosing the paper-and-pencil version of the test. "We don't want to measure a student's computer skills or fears. The most important part will be measuring their learning in school and college readiness standards," Erickson said.
Few details concerning the computerized version of the ACT have been released. Erickson did indicate that the computerized version of the test will consist of subtests matching those currently on the ACT.
"As long as students have the option of taking the paper-and-pencil version of the test it is likely that the two versions will be identical with respect to test content and question format," says Dr. Stephen Harris, Director of Curriculum Development for ETC. "Colleges will have to compare the scores of students who take the test on different platforms, and so in order to ensure that the test is platform-neutral and doesn't intrinsically favor one set of test takers over the other, the tests would have to be very similar."
One important difference between the two versions of the test involves the reporting of scores – those who take the computer-based test will learn their scores immediately upon completing the test, while those who take the paper-and-pencil version will have to wait several weeks to receive their scores.
For now, not much. The computerized version of the exam is currently expected to be released in 2015, at the earliest. Students should plan to continue preparing for the ACT without consideration for the change. As previously mentioned, it doesn't appear that the exam content or format will undergo significant changes at this time.