ACT has announced 3 NEW, BIG Changes starting September 2020!

ACT has announced 3 NEW, BIG Changes starting September 2020!

Over the past month, we have received a number of phone calls and forwarded ACT articles from excited parents about the new ACT changes.  Here is our take.

1st Change--Students who have already taken the ACT will have the option to retake individual sections. Traditionally, if students wish to retake the ACT, then they must retake the entirety of the four-hour test. Now, students will be able to just sit for one portion. For example, a student could retake just the Reading section, if the student wishes to try for a higher score on that section. 

2nd Change--The ACT will be offered online, which will lead to faster results. At select test centers, students will be given the choice of taking the ACT online or on paper. Eventually, the online option will expand to all testing centers. The test results for online testing will be available after 2 days, rather than the current practice of after 2-8 weeks for paper testing.

  • What to NOTE-- There are two important questions: How many online ACT testing centers will be available starting September 2020? Secondly, is taking the ACT online easier? Most students prefer to take the test on paper as reading, annotating, and doing scratch work for questions on a computer is not as easy.

3rd Change--The ACT will provide a superscore that gives colleges THE OPTION to use the students’ best scores from multiple testings, despite the ACT’s previous view of superscoring as an inappropriate use of the test. 

What to NOTE-- One important caveat is that the ACT will also send the scores from any test dates used to build the superscore and colleges will be able to see any lower scores from past tests.


Potential Benefits of the Changes

  • Scoring--In re-taking an individual section, students will avoid receiving lower scores on sections in which they previously scored well.

  • Time & Anxiety--Students will only have to sit for the time required for that specific section, greatly shortening the testing time and have less at stake with each retesting, therefore reducing testing anxiety.

  • Online Testing--In taking the test online, students will know their scores more quickly and be able to type and edit the essay rather than hand write it.


Potential Negative Effects of these Changes

  • College Admissions--It is not yet clear how college admissions will respond to these new options. Georgetown University’s dean of admissions Charles A. Deacon responded that the college would not accept “individual subscore results” or a “superscore.” Due to increased scrutiny on college admissions, it is possible that many colleges will react similarly, but it is too soon to know for sure. 

  • Test Score Inflation--If students can retake individual sections and superscore, essentially curating an ACT score, then what counts as a good ACT score will continue to rise. 

  • Online Testing--While online testing may benefit certain sections, it could make the ACT Reading section increase in difficulty unless the online platform could allow for annotating or ways of tracking the passages as students read. 

Conclusion: At the end of the day, it will be very interesting to see how these changes evolve and will be implemented. Changes like these could potentially help students and make the ACT more student-friendly and, of course, also help the ACT gain more market share and revenue.   

While there are still many unanswered questions, such as the cost of taking and sending individual section scores, number of available online testing centers, and the way individual section test scores will be interpreted by colleges, we look forward to seeing who will be the ultimate champion of the ongoing battle between SAT and ACT. 

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