What disciplines can be assessed using the ACAT?
How do we choose an ACAT to assess our learning outcomes?
Departments select the combination of content areas best representing their requirements for the major (except art and literature in English). This allows the best assessment of the degree to which students are meeting the content learning outcomes implicit in their course and degree requirements. Customization is accomplished by including specific content area components. The ACAT is a nationally standardized instrument; we are unable to customize it at the level of individual questions.
To see the areas available for a discipline, click on the link to the discipline above or click here for a printable PDF file containing all of the disciplines and their options.
ACATs assume 70% of the students taking the ACAT have been expected to learn 70% of the material while studying for the major. The average graduating senior is expected to correctly answer half the questions, allowing students from different programs at different institutions to score comparably while not mastering identical content.
Can we use different ACATs for different groups of students?
Can we change the areas we assess?
Because of the way ACATs are identified electronically for scoring, the software cannot differentiate among ACAT versions used by the same department during a single testing year. Departments changing their ACAT configuration should clearly indicate this on their order and provide a complete list of areas to appear on the new ACAT including areas not being changed. A department wishing to change its ACAT configuration after administering it at least once during the same year (June 1 to May 31) will be charged an administrative fee for managing the change. Please refer to the list of special fees for the current amount. If you are unsure whether or not the fee will apply to your department/institution, please contact us to inquire.
When do we administer the ACAT?
Pretests are typically administered at declaration of the major. ACAT requires at least 1 year between pre- and post-test to provide gain scores against our national sample of pre-post examinees. We do not recommend shorter intervals. The ACAT is calibrated to measure the overall impact of the major and should not be used to evaluate a single course or a single term of study.
The ACAT used as a senior exit test should be administered as close as possible to completion of the course of study.
ACATs can be administered during a class period, as part of Assessment Day activities, individually or in small groups through an assessment center. PACAT does not have assigned administration dates or windows for the ACAT.
Because ACAT and ACAT Online are available for administration interchangeably, departments and assessment offices can administer them under the broadest possible circumstances to insure the best student response.
Can we see a review copy before we make our decision?
Review copies must be requested using a Sample Request form which includes an agreement to provide appropriate security for the sample. PACAT does not charge for samples. If you are unable to print the form, call us to have one sent to you.
A sample may be retained for up to 90 days after which it must be returned to PACAT.
Samples are provided for the sole purpose of departmental review and may not be used or distributed for use as study guides. Copies must not be made for any reason. We reserve the right to fully verify requests before providing sample ACATs.
How often are ACATs revised?
Most ACATs are adjusted biannually with major content revisions every 3-4 years. Transitions across revisions are gradual and typically do not require an extensive recalibration of the instrument.
ACATs are revised by item writers selected from participating departments. This insures the best fit between content and the learning goals of the departments using the instrument.