Gov. Burgum signs bill removing the ACT requirement for 11th grade students

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 7:58 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 9:32 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - High school juniors will no longer have to take the ACT.

Governor Doug Burgum has signed a bill into law that removes the requirement and says they may take either the ACT or “an equivalent nationally recognized standardized test” approved by the Board of Higher Education.

The ACT test has long been a source of anxiety for high school juniors, but it’s also been an important tool when it comes to college admissions.

Standardized tests aren’t going away, but the requirement is changing.

Circling the correct answers and getting the right score on the ACT determines a lot of things for future college students.

Like scholarship eligibility, course placement and even college admission, things Legacy High School senior Maggie Sorensen knows all too well.

“Taking the ACT numerous times, trying to just get my scores high as possible. That kind of provides me with the opportunity to apply to schools outside of North Dakota,” said Sorensen.

In the future, students like her will have more choices.

North Dakota University System’s vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, Lisa Johnson, says this bill may even cause them to look more closely at grade point averages in the core course requirements.

“Looking closely at those core courses which students have had more time to complete those courses, you know, it’s not just a standardized test many consider high stakes,” said Johnson.

Johnson says she advises students, families and counselors to take advantage of the ACT if it’s available to them.

“There are still references to ACT in scholarship requirements, you know, they state scholarships still require some sort of nationally recognized standardized exam,” said Johnson.

Johnson says the State Board of Higher Education has authorized colleges and universities to waive the collection of ACT scores through the summer of 2023, which gives the university system time to figure out what they want to collect for admission purposes.

Between now and the summer of 2023, the university system will be studying the patterns of student mobility and success of the students they’ve admitted who don’t have ACT scores.

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