New Options for ACT Test

Kate Farnum

Struggling to find the $50 for the exam you need to take for college? The Dubuque Community District has the answer! DCSD will be paying for the ACT and other tests starting this year.

The ACT, or American College Testing, is a required test for public colleges in Iowa. Students applying to the University of Iowa, Iowa State, and the University of Northern Iowa are accepted contingent on a personal RAI score. This RAI score is calculated with your high school GPA, ACT score (or SAT equivalent), and the number of core classes you took in high school. To calculate this score, students take their cumulative high school GPA (x30), ACT composite (x3), and the number of high school core study classes they have passed (x5). After this calculation, the totals are added up to get the score. All 3 schools require a 245 RAI score from Iowa residents. Community colleges, like NICC, do not require the ACT to be admitted, but do require an entrance exam.

Students typically pay between $46 to $62.50 to take the ACT test. Many students take the test more than once to get a higher score, which opens scholarship opportunities and occasionally guaranteed admission. Stan Rheingans, superintendent of the Dubuque Community School District, states that about 60% of DCSD juniors take the ACT. So, what do families that cannot afford the test do? Starting this year, the DCSD is paying for students to take the ACT and other exams needed for post-grad education. This waive of fees will cover the entire test when the ACT is taken at Dubuque Senior or Dubuque Hempstead. The fee will be waived only for people testing on the scheduled date. This also gives students an opportunity to take the test at school instead of having to travel to an out of city testing location, like Anamosa or Cedar Rapids. Rheingans says, “It’s going to be part of a normal school day. So all you have to do is show up, say ‘I want to take this test or that test.’ And then we’ll administer the test and get you those results”.

The district is encouraging preparedness for college in multiple ways for high schoolers – and testing just one of them. Students who must meet requirements other than the ACT for their post-grad plans but need to take a different exam will also be covered. For example, entrance exams for the military and community colleges are also going to be provided free of cost. The district will provide funding for these tests from the annual budget. The DCSD estimates ‘spending about $35,000 a year on the tests’ (Rheingans).

The national average of the ACT score is 21. Dubuque Schools students score at an average of 23.