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A new report from ACT, the company that owns and administers its namesake standardized exam, found that its test scores are a better predictor of a students’ need for remedial courses in college than the traditional measure of high school GPA. 

The study, published Wednesday, posits that the COVID-19 pandemic led to two factors influencing placement in remedial courses: grade inflation at the high school level that made determining need harder for colleges, and a more lenient approach by institutions to college readiness. 

The report noted “some evidence to suggest that using high school transcript data instead of standardized test scores can significantly reduce misplacement into developmental courses.” But it concluded that the pandemic made test scores like the ACT composite better indicators of academic unpreparedness, and that colleges looking to improve retention rates should incorporate them into their remedial placement decisions. 

“The use of multiple measures for developmental course placement not only aligns with best practices but can also help to facilitate a more equitable and effective education journey for students,” Edgar I. Sanchez, ACT’s lead research scientist, wrote in the report.

Sanchez’s findings are in line with recent studies conducted by Opportunity Insights and multiple highly selective colleges that found SAT and ACT scores were better indicators of academic success at their institutions than high school GPA, and supports a resurgent movement to reinstate test requirements in college admissions. 

It also comes one month after the testing company’s acquisition by venture capital firm Nexus Capital, as it begins implementing strategies to compete with the College Board’s SAT.