The ACT Writing Test is basically the same. It will still be scored on four criteria call the four domains: ideas/analysis, development/support, organization, and language use/convention. Still two readers will evaluate the writing, and each domain will still be graded on a 2-12 score range. The overall or final reporting score will still be the average of the four domain scores.
But, there will be a difference. That change will be in the reporting of the final writing score, starting in September of 2016. Instead of the final score reported on a scale of 1-36, the score will now be reported on the 2-12 scale, 12 being perfect, not 36.
The original writing score based on 1-36 was an attempt to make the writing score consistent with the multiple choice ACT test scores. However, students were comparing their 1-36 writing score to the 1-36 multiple choice test scores, and that was deceiving. The writing test measures different skills, and the comparisons were confusing because the score differences were larger than the difference in reported ability. In actuality the ACT writing tests scores were in the same ball park as the multiple choice test scores; they just didn’t look that way.
The ACT explains rather than compare individual subject test scores, it is best to look at your score at the percentile rank to understand how well you have done in each section.