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Certain sections of the ACT exam may be better predictors of academic success in college than others.

The SAT and the ACT are supposed to be predictors of academic success in college. But are they? A new study conducted by a professor at Stanford University, Bruce Evans, as well as by Devin Pope of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business points out that certain parts of the ACT exam are not predictive at all! The study also points out that a couple sections of the ACT are highly predictive.

So what are these mysterious sections? Well, according to the study, science and reading have “little or no” ability to successfully forecast academic success in college. But the English and mathematics sections are “highly” predictive of such academic success! The problem, the study’s authors point out, is that college admissions counselors rely so heavily on the composite score of the ACT…even though they do receive the data on the breakdown.

According to “Inside Higher Ed,” the authors write, “Personal conversations suggest that most admission officers are simply unaware of the difference in predictive validity across the tests and have limited time and resources to analyze the predictive power of its various components at their institution. An alternative explanation is that schools have a strong incentive — perhaps due to highly publicized external rankings such as those compiled by U.S. News & World Report, which incorporate students’ entrance exam scores — to admit students with a high ACT composite score, even if this score turns out to be unhelpful.”

Do you think college admissions counselors should weigh the sections that are better predictors of future academic success over the less predictive sections? Do you think the ACT should do away with the sections that the study found did not accurately forecast potential academic success? Let us know your thoughts by posting below!

At Ivy Coach, we offer ACT tutoring. Check out our newsletter on what are respectable ACT scores. And have a look at the “Inside Higher Ed” article on the ACT exam.


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