With delayed September ACT Writing Test scores causing confusion for students applying early to college, attention has now shifted to a possible delay in the October test scores.
On Oct. 19, ACT notified colleges of the September delay, which was caused by the introduction of a redesigned writing section, according to ACT spokesman Ed Colby. The September test was the first to include the new writing section, which was scored on a different rubric from the previous version. While students have been able to access their results on the other sections of the September ACT, official score reports are not released to students and to colleges until all sections are scored. And according to Yale’s admissions website, writing scores for the October ACT could be delayed as well.
Despite concerns that students’ official score reports will not be released in time for many schools’ early action application deadline on Nov. 1, Dean of Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said the delay will not have a significant impact on Yale’s normal application process timeline since the admissions committee bases preliminary decisions on self-reported scores in the Common Application. Students initially self-report their scores through the Common Application, but must also have an official score report sent to colleges by the testing organization. Many colleges — including Yale — require that applicants taking the ACT submit the ACT Writing Test, which includes an additional essay section.
“This is not going to delay the processing or review of Early Action applications,” Quinlan said. “The way the process works is that applications become complete, and we begin reviewing them on self-reported scores. It’s only towards the end of the process when we might get close to admitting a student that we want to make sure that the scores are official.”
Still, though thousands of students will not receive their official score reports until after the early action deadline, the vast majority of test takers already has access to their official score reports online since their writing sections have been graded. As of Tuesday morning, nearly 90 percent of the September ACT writing scores had been scored and reported, Colby said. He added that ACT expects to have the remaining writing tests scored and reported by Nov. 6, five days after Yale’s early action deadline.
On Thursday, the Yale admissions office posted a message on its website assuring prospective students that their applications will not be impacted by the delay.
“Scores that are received by the first week in December will arrive in time for early action consideration and will be considered without prejudice,” the message reads.
Jim Swanson, a college counselor at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, Nebraska, said students at his school were not particularly worried about the delay. Swanson said only one student and one parent came to him with concerns, but he assured them that colleges would change their deadlines for official score reports given the delay.
Yale’s peer schools have also posted similar notices: Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania both state on their websites that they are aware of the delay and are making accommodations for affected students as necessary.
However, high-school students interviewed who took the September ACT Writing Test expressed frustration over the delay, stating that the delayed score reporters have added further confusion and anxiety to an already stressful process.
Yousef Issa, a senior at Hampton High School who is applying to Yale early action through the Questbridge National College Match Program — a college and scholarship application process for low-income high-school seniors — said he has received mixed information from admissions representatives about how to deal with the problem. Issa took the ACT Writing Test in September and October.
Issa and Maeve Moran, a senior at Merion Mercy Academy in Merion, Pennsylvania, both criticized ACT for its lack of transparency about the issue. Moran said the delay was stressful for her because initially, she did not know its cause and thought there may have been a problem with her specific test.
“They don’t give any information out,” Issa said.
Issa was also concerned about the possible delay of the October test results, which could have more significant consequences for early action applicants to Yale since admissions decisions are supposed to be sent out in mid-December.
Colby said ACT does not expect a delay in score reporting for the October test, adding that ACT is making adjustments to the process to help speed up the scoring and reporting of writing test results.
“As with any new process, there is a learning curve, and we have learned a great deal in this first experience in scoring the enhanced ACT writing test on a national test date,” Colby said. “We will be closely monitoring the process to ensure that it is moving along as anticipated and are prepared to make any further adjustments as necessary.”
However, Yale admissions’ website states that the ACT notified colleges of a possible delay in score reporting for the October test. An additional section addresses students who took the ACT on Oct. 24, urging them to self-report scores as soon as they receive them.
The Admissions Office remains confident that potential delays will not have a drastic impact on the normal admissions timeline. Quinlan said that even if the scores are not available under the normal timeline, the admissions committee considers applications until right before decisions are released, and so it will be able to review information that comes in later than expected.
Students who took the ACT on Oct. 24 are scheduled to receive their multiple-choice scores sometime between Nov. 10 and Dec. 18.