A new scoring section of the popular ACT college prep exam will test students' STEM performance.
Short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, STEM is a curriculum focus that's been taking hold in schools in recent years. President Barack Obama said in his 2013 State of the Union address that concentrating on these areas would help prepare students for the global economy.
ACT officials announced Friday that starting in 2015, a student's score will include two new "readiness indicators" — namely, STEM performance and a new section gauging performance in language arts. The new STEM score will combine the results of a student's science and math scores.
Speaking with The Huffington Post, ACT president Jon Erickson said the changes are part of a process of revision intended to make it easier for students to see their results in these respective fields. The exam's standard 36-point scale won't change, according to the article.
The changes were unveiled three months after the College Board, which oversees ACT’s competitor the SAT, announced several revisions. Starting in 2016, the perfect score will return to 1,600, the essay will be optional, and the vocabulary section will feature more practical words.
The ACT overtook the SAT in terms of popularity in 2012, based on data from the watchdog group FairTest. Supporting the popularity of both tests is the lucrative exam-preparation industry, estimated to be worth $840 million, according to a report cited by The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch.
It's also an industry that's changing along with modern studying habits. In May, EdTech interviewed Kenny Nova, the designer of Play2prep, a mobile app that's targeting the prep market by taking advantage of teens' passions for social media and multiplayer gaming.
Nova's design was based on the core tenet of enabling students to collaborate while studying, which he says he remembers as a dry, boring affair.
Erickson told The Huffington Post that he hopes the changes will make the ACT's results more "enlightening and, dare I may say, exciting" to students.