ACT Announces Changes To Testing Policies

Changes to the ACT will make it easier for students to retake sections of the test.

On October 8th the ACT organization announced significant changes that will take effect with the September 2020 national ACT test date:  

  • ACT Section Retesting: For the first time in the 60-year history of the ACT test, students who have already taken the test will be allowed to retake individual ACT section tests (English, math, reading, science and/or writing), rather than having to take the entire ACT test again.
  • Online testing with faster score results: Students will have the option of online or paper testing on national test days at ACT test centers (selected test centers initially, eventually expanding to all). The test is currently administered only on paper on national test dates. Online testing will offer faster results compared to traditional paper-based administration—two days compared to around two weeks.
  • ACT superscoring: ACT will report a superscore for students who have taken the ACT test more than once, giving colleges the option to use the student’s best scores from all test administrations, rather than scores from just one sitting, in their admission and scholarship decisions. In a reversal of their prior position, ACT reported that new research suggests that superscoring is actually more predictive of how students will perform in their college courses than other scoring methods.

    The ACT will offer superscoring, online testing, and section retesting.

The content and format of the ACT test itself will not change. Only the administration and reporting methods will be different.

What do these changes mean for students?

  • Previously, if a student wanted to increase individual section scores on the ACT, they had to risk getting lower scores on other sections that were already strong. For example, if a student had a 26 on Math and a 33 on Reading, a retake would potentially raise the Math but put that 33 in Reading at risk. With the new policy, students will risk nothing and will be able to go to a test center to focus all of their energy on whatever sections still need work.
  • The logistics about how this will be implemented were not provided. One key detail is that this option will likely only be available at test centers (as compared to the current local high school administrations), and the specifics about how this opportunity will be accessible in an equitable manner were not shared. It will take time to develop the digital infrastructure to make online testing available to all, but the intention is to avoid security issues that have arisen from using paper tests.
  • We don’t know yet how colleges will adapt their policies in response to this change. Will they require students to report all testing dates in order to identify those who have taken advantage of repeated section testing?
  • We also don’t know how SAT policies may be modified to be competitive with the ACT. Will the College Board also allow section retesting? Will online SAT testing become available, and if so how widely?

Your consultants at Educational Advocates will continue to monitor developments regarding standardized testing and keep our clients informed about how they can maximize their results.




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