The ACT Is Changing & Here's What You Need To Know

It’s no secret that for some, standardized tests are like a unique form of self-torture: sitting in a room for over two hours with a group of other freaked out students, every single thing you do being watched and timed, nothing but a complimentary chocolate bar to console you. On a SATURDAY, nonetheless!

There’s so much pressure put on your performance on this one test. For some colleges, your test score determines whether or not you’ll be admitted. That’s a massive burden to put on someone who isn’t even old enough to vote yet. I remember spending months going to tutoring sessions, prep courses, and having countless mental breakdowns just to receive scores I knew weren’t a true reflection of my abilities. The math section especially ALWAYS made me its bitch. I dreaded sitting through the entirety of another test session just to attempt to improve my math score because there was always the chance I could score lower in the other sections.

Luckily, for those students still eligible to take the ACT test in fall 2020, there will be three new testing options available. All are anticipated to help increase students’ chances of college admission and improve the overall test-taking experience. The driving factors for these changes were research findings and extensive feedback from students, parents, teachers, counselors, and college admissions professionals.

On October 8th, the ACT announced students will have access to taking the ACT online, ACT superscoring, and individual sections retests. According to PR Newswire, ACT Chief Commercial Officer Suzana Delanghe said, “ACT is evolving to meet students in the digital world in which they live. We want to do a better job of helping them succeed.”

Let’s break down exactly what this all means. For starters, the ACT is not getting a new test or test structure. There’s not a new version of the test, just new options of how students can take it.

The new, online option will still take place on national test days at (select) ACT test centers. Online testing will offer faster results—two days compared to around two weeks for traditional paper-based tests, according to PR Newswire. Superscoring gives colleges the “option to use the student’s best scores from all test administrations, rather than scores from just one sitting.” In other words, you can choose your best combined scores, rather than having to throw the whole test away if you don’t improve on one section.

Lastly (and easily my favorite new option), is ACT section retesting. For the first time, students who have already completed the test will have the option to retake individual sections. If you suck at math like me, you can just retake the math section rather than the entire test! Delanghe confirmed individual section tests scores are consistent with those of the entire test. They are just “offering new ways to take the ACT…giving them [students] the ability to focus only on subject areas needing improvement.” Students can still opt to retake the entire ACT if they’d like, but like… why would you subject yourself to that again?

The new ACT testing options will become available in September 2020. Students will be eligible to retake sections of the test then, regardless of when they took the full ACT. The graduating class of 2021 will be the first effected by these changes.

Despite the new changes to their testing options, the ACT will still offer free learning and test prep resources and its fee waiver program for low-income households.

TBH, I would have killed for these options when I was in high school. Standardized tests are NOT my jam, and having the chance to  retake one section at a time would’ve been a tremendous stress reliever. Personally, I’m still not convinced standardized tests are the best way to measure skill and knowledge, but it’s great to see ACT making strides to improve students’ testing experience.

Images: ACT / Twitter

Dana Samuel
Dana Samuel
Dana is a full-blown Leo with an unhealthy love of nail polish. She's a self-proclaimed group chat comedian and $7 Costco sangria connoisseur. Follow her @dmicheleeee on all platforms.