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Improving Security for International Testing

Piracy is an international crime that accounts for an estimated $300 billion in lost intellectual property (IP) revenues (The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, 2013). Additionally, the theft of IP creates a significant drag on United States gross domestic product and diminishes future innovation by businesses. ACT, similar to other companies across the globe, is impacted by piracy, and while we cannot stop it, we intend to address it head on.

ACT’s tests are taken by millions of students every year, trusted by parents, accepted by every four-year college and university in the country, and used by scholarship agencies to make decisions that impact millions of students each year in the US and around the world. ACT knows how important trusted, valid results are to those who take our tests and use our scores, and we are committed to ensuring the validity of our assessments. We regularly refresh our test questions and forms, and we are continually improving our testing processes to ensure a fair testing experience for our test takers.

While the vast majority of test takers are honest, a small number of individuals—and a growing number of adults and organized fraud rings—are unfortunately seeking to undermine the system for their own financial gain, jeopardizing the hard work of honest test takers.

We realize the importance individuals and institutions place on the scores generated by our tests. We are committed to doing our part to curtail this type of fraudulent behavior by not only monitoring and addressing specific issues as they occur, but also by improving our test development and delivery processes to assure students, institutions, and the public that the scores we report are valid and reliable. We intend to do this while also maintaining the highest degree of access for test takers.

ACT has always sought to regularly improve our testing processes, and, to that end, we are aggressively planning for the development and launch of a Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) version of the ACT® test that will be implemented for international testing in the fall of 2017. More details on ACT’s International CAT will be forthcoming in the next week.

The use of a CAT design allows for quicker scoring and turnaround of results for examinees, results in an assessment that is shorter in duration, and—because assessments delivered on a CAT platform are uniquely generated based on the test taker’s responses—are more secure and less prone to security threats. ACT’s desire has always been to innovate and advance the field of measurement. In doing so, we also hope to make it more secure and, therefore, more reliable.

ACT encourages anyone who has concerns about testing irregularities to report them via our anonymous Test Security Hotline.

ACT is also reaching out to National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) leadership and to others in the admissions testing industry to discuss how—together—we can do more to limit the negative impact of cheating in higher education. We look forward to further conversations and to ensuring ongoing confidence in ACT’s results.