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“A New Venture”: Announcing American College Testing

On Tuesday, September 8, 1959, the American College Testing (ACT) program made headlines.

A press release announcing “the new venture” was sent out by the State University of Iowa (now known as The University of Iowa) to tell the nation that colleges and universities in 14 states had signed on to launch a new college entrance exam that would hold its first administration in all participating states on November 7.

Any good reporter in 1959 would have asked ‘why ACT?’ or ‘why now?’ and co-founder E.F. Lindquist didn’t disappoint with his answer:

"The bulge in our teen-age population," said Dr. Lindquist, "will squeeze our colleges to the limits in the next few years. In part, the colleges will have to decide a crucial question: Who shall go to college?

“ACT will make a major contribution toward the answer," he said. "It will provide high schools and colleges with a uniform, yet flexible, admissions program and give them reports that are now costly and hard to obtain. The continuous research that will result from ACT will be helpful to high schools and colleges--and, ultimately, to students themselves.''

Read the release in full to appreciate this blast-from-the-past, in addition to a few old-school “infographics.” Then check out our other milestones and join us in celebrating #ACTturns60 on social.

A press release announcing the existence of American College Testing (ACT) was sent out on Tuesday, September 8, 1959. View the release in full.
An infographic from the 1960s showing the rise of ACT testing
An infographic from the 1960s demonstrating the growth of ACT adoption by colleges


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ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Grounded in 60 years of research, ACT is a trusted leader in college and career readiness solutions. Each year, ACT serves millions of students, job seekers, schools, government agencies and employers in the US and around the world with learning resources, assessments, research and credentials designed to help them succeed from elementary school through career.

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