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Iowa History Daily: November 7 - First ACT Exam

Iowa History Daily: On November 7, 1959, students filed in to take the first ACT exam. Developed by an education professor at the University of Iowa named Everett Franklin Lindquist, the test sought to serve as a competitor for the SAT while building on the success of ITBS, ITED, and GED.

In 1929, Lindquist, under the direction of Professor Thomas Kirby at the State University of Iowa, developed a statewide scholastic competition known as the ‘Iowa Academic Meet’ known popularly as the "Brain Derby." A cornerstone testing accomplishment in Iowa came in 1935 with the introduction of the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) for grades six through eight. The immediate success of the exams across the state led to extension of the program to grades three through five in 1940. In 1942 the Iowa Tests of Educational Development were implemented.

In 1942, Lindquist helped implement the Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED). The ITEDs introduced new features: facilitating the individualization of instruction and guidance, emphasis on general intellectual skills and abilities, understanding of broad concepts, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. During World War II, Lindquist developed the USAFI Tests of General Educational Development (GED).

Lindquist developed the American College Testing (ACT) exam based on the ITEDs. The ACT sought to test more than cognitive reasoning by seeking to actively incorporate information students learned in school. The first standardized test to include a science section, the ACT also focused on identifying strengths and weaknesses to guide student placement rather than determining cognitive reasoning strength across the board like the SAT.

During the first year in 1959, 75,460 students took the exam. English, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Natural Sciences composed the exam, with students alloted 45 minutes for each section. Student exams were scored on a scale of 0-36. The test quickly gained popularity as a college admissions exam in the Midwestern US. By 1972, the number of students taking the ACT topped one million for the first time. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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