The ACT Announces Changes

What's Changing and What Does it Mean for You?

ACT Announcement

I heard the ACT made a big announcement. What’s changing? 

The ACT recently introduced 3 changes that will affect students taking the ACT in the United States starting in September 2020.

  1. Online testing: Starting in September 2020,  students will be able to take the entire ACT on a computer at an official test center. Online testing will still take place on National Test dates, and the format of the test will remain exactly the same. Multiple-choice scores will be reported as soon as 2 business days after the test administration. Students can still opt to take a paper-and-pencil version of the full test if they prefer.  
  2. Section retesting: After taking at least one full ACT, students can opt to retake 1–3 individual sections rather than retaking the full test. Section retesting will only be available in the online testing format. There is no limit to the number of times students can retake sections. Section retesting will be available on all national test dates. 
  3. Superscoring: The ACT is introducing a new type of score report that students will be able to send to colleges. This report will include a superscored composite score based on the highest section scores a student has achieved regardless of test date. It will also include what the ACT calls a “full battery” (a full score report including all sections) from the full test on which the student earned the highest composite score. 

What does this mean for my child in the Class of 2021 (current juniors)?

Because the changes don’t take effect until September 2020, many current juniors will already be finished taking the ACT. We think that’s great! For now, we suggest that students stay the test prep course and work toward a score they’re happy with. If juniors can finish the process before September 2020, they won’t need to worry about these changes. However, students who plan to test in the fall can think about section retesting for the September test. The superscore report will impact all students in this class—the ACT will draw from tests as far back as September 2016 to create the superscore—but, we do not yet know how colleges will view this report.

What does this mean for my child in the Class of 2022 (current sophomores)? 

At this point, we suggest that students wait until the spring to start thinking about test prep—sophomores are still learning many of the core skills and concepts they will need for the test in school this year. In the spring, we will work with students to put an individual plan in place (if they plan to take the ACT rather than the SAT) that takes these upcoming changes into account. 

What does this mean for students taking the ACT outside of the United States?

Students taking the ACT internationally have already had access to online testing and faster score reporting. These features will not change. In September 2020, international students will have access to superscoring score reports. Section retesting will be available outside of the United States beginning in September 2021. 

How will students prepare differently for the ACT? 

The good news is that the structure and content of the ACT aren’t changing. Students will still be tested on English, Math, Reading, and Science (with an optional Essay), and the time limits and number of questions in each section will remain unchanged. Many students will continue to take paper-and-pencil tests for at least one ACT. Private Prep tutors will be fully prepared to assist those students ready to move on to online testing or section retesting. Directors will help guide students as they choose when and in which format to take test sections. 

So does this mean all colleges superscore the ACT now?

No. It is important to note that it is still up to individual colleges and universities to opt into the superscoring process. The ACT’s change affects what students are able to take and send, but colleges will still have the final word on what they want to receive. The ACT recently released research that showed that superscored composite results are better indicators of student success in college than are non-superscored results. As such, the ACT is changing its recommendations to colleges and is pushing hard for colleges to adopt superscoring policies. Vanderbilt is one university that, in light of these recommendations, has already changed to a superscoring policy. However, we do not yet know if more colleges will follow suit, and if they do, how exactly they will view the various types of score reports. In short, on the college admissions side, there’s still a lot we don’t know!

How will the changes affect students with accommodations? 

The ACT has announced that students who take the test with extended time (time-and-a-half) will have the same options for online testing as students who take the test with regular time. These students will be able to choose between the online and paper-and-pencil options for the full ACT and will take section retests on the computer. Students with accommodations outside of time-and-a-half extended time will take paper-and-pencil tests. We anticipate more details from the ACT on this topic in the coming months. 

While there are still a lot of details left to fall into place, we are always here to help you navigate the college admissions landscape. Please contact us with any questions.


ACT Timeline