• Heather Lord

Changes to the ACT Coming September 2020

Anytime the ACT announces changes to their testing format, students tend to panic. How will the test be different? Will it be harder? To stave off some nerves, here's the changes you can expect:

Online testing option

Students will now have the option to take the test at a testing center on a computer. There are a few benefits of taking the test on a computer.

  • Faster results: The biggest difference is that online testing will allow for faster results. Students will receive scores results in 2 business days. This option will help high-school seniors who would like to take the October 24th ACT and use their October results to apply to schools with a November 1st deadline.

  • No need to bubble in answers by hand: Students often complain about the tedious nature of filling in all the multiple choice bubbles. Staying inside the lines takes time! It's easy to accidentally skip a question and realize that the last 10 answers were one off. Trying to change an answer on a bubble sheet can also be worrisome. If the changed answer isn't erased well enough, the scanner might read both bubbles, marking the question automatically wrong. Selecting answers with a mouse solves these problems

  • Type essay (without spell check or auto-correct): Some students have handwriting that even they can't read. Although typing the essay won't help correct spelling, typing an essay makes it easier for a grader to read. Students can also edit much easer on a computer than when writing the essay by hand.

Option to take one section at a time

Once students have taken the full ACT (with or without the essay), it is typical for students to take the ACT once or twice more. When registering for a retake, students will have the option to register for specific sections. Here are some things to consider:

  • Students can only use these scores for schools who accept super-scores: While many schools will piece together a new composite score by assembling a students best sub-scores, most schools still require that you only submit composite scores comprised of sub-scores from a single test.

  • The cost of taking each section separately will add up: The ACT has yet to announce the registration fee for a single section exam, but it’s easy to imagine how the cost of taking the ACT could double if students are retaking the test section by section. To be fair, the ACT claims that an increase in revenue was not their motivation for the new testing policy, citing their status as a non-profit organization.

  • This new policy will undoubtedly advantage students from wealthier families: The ACT claims that this change is driven by their own research that supports the idea that super-scores are an even better predictor of a student’s college success. This claim is in direct conflict with a University of Chicago study that found that the ACT was a poor predictor of student outcomes when compared to a student’s GPA. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing found that the ACT was better at predicting a student’s background than his or her ability to succeed in college.


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