Pa. students still lean toward the SAT

September 11, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - In a year when combined math and reading scores on the revamped SAT test dropped seven points nationwide, officials with the less-famous ACT reported that the class of 2006 set a participation record for their test.

ACT reports more than 1.2 million recent grads took its test in high school, while the College Board includes just less than 1.5 million test takers in its latest national report.

However, only 9 percent of Pennsylvania's 2006 graduates opted to take the ACT.

ACT spokesman Ken Gullette thinks that's going to change as more students find they are fatigued by the four-hour SAT, look at how their scores are reported to colleges and discover that the ACT better caters to what they have already learned rather than critical thinking skills.

"I do believe in the coming year we'll see more participation from traditionally SAT states," Gullette said.

The two tests are scored differently, but those scores are easily converted in the college admissions process, Penn State Mont Alto Director of Enrollment Management Barbara Seyter said. The Franklin County, Pa., campus and others across the Penn State University system view the exams equally, she said.


"There's no weight on one versus the other," Shepherd University Admissions Director Kim Scranage said. West Virginia is an ACT state, so out-of-state students are made aware of the test and the types of people who traditionally fare better on it, Scranage said.

"We will review all of the things a student can do to better their portfolio," she said.

Administrators from Franklin County high schools said few of their students take the ACT.

Twenty-two students at Greencastle-Antrim High School took the ACT in 2005-06, which was an increase over the nine from the prior year, Director of Secondary Education Jack E. Appleby said. Yet, 105 students took the SAT in 2006, he said.

Waynesboro Area Senior High School, the only county high school other than Greencastle-Antrim to see an increase in SAT scores with the new test, traditionally has very few students take the ACT, Assistant Superintendent Gloria A. Pugliano said.

"There are very, very few (colleges) on the East Coast that require the ACT," Pugliano said.

Gullette maintains that there is "some momentum building" in this part of the country.

"Even Harvard and Yale will take ACT scores, and you don't have to submit SAT scores," he said.

With No. 2 pencils being sharpened in anticipation of the first scheduled ACT test of the school year held this coming Saturday, Gullette and his colleagues are talking to admissions personnel and high school counselors on the East Coast to raise awareness about their own three-letter test.

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