HELENA — The state says more high school students are taking a college readiness test now that it is free.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau says that almost 3,000 more students took the ACT Plus Writing test this spring. In total, 9,000 public high school juniors took the test.

The increase also led to more students eligible for awards.

The state says that nearly 1,000 more students also qualified for the state's "Best and Brightest" scholarship. And roughly 500 more are eligible for full admission into one of Montana's four-year colleges.

Juneau says that providing a free test for all juniors is opening more opportunities for Montana students.

The free test is the result of federal a grant given to the state's college system.

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