Changes to the ACT: What You Should Expect



Over the past few months, the ACT team has disclosed some information regarding their future plans for testing. Among these plans is a remote version for students to take the exam from home and new super-scoring policies. With these unprecedented changes that we have never seen before, there are without a doubt many questions regarding how remote exams would maintain the integrity of fair testing and how section retesting will work. With that being said, here is a brief synopsis of what we know so far.


Testing From Home

So far, most students have only had the option to take the exams in-person. Given the current circumstances, this policy has caused notable uncertainty and concern over student safety. Some international students, such as those from Egypt, have had the opportunity to take the ACT online. Not only does this opportunity provide a safer environment for students, but it also allows the testers to receive their scores much quicker, with only having to wait around two business days to get their results back. This differs from students who take the exam in-person as they would usually have to wait much longer, more specifically around 3-8 weeks.


So how will this impact student performance? Well, it could honestly go either way. Some students prefer to test in-person as looking at a paper negates eye-strain, which can make reading the text much more difficult. In addition, it is arguably easier to annotate on paper, which is key for some students to have references to look back at when needed. Other students would rather take the ACT without wearing a mask, especially since it can result in foggy lenses with glasses, which is not ideal during a fast-paced test.


Regardless, some students’ preferences will deviate from others in terms of taking the exam, and the ACT must be as flexible as possible to accommodate both sides. As of right now, the information provided regarding this option is relatively minimal as they are still in the development stage.


Section Retesting

In addition to creating an opportunity for students to take the ACT online, there is an upcoming option for students to retake certain sections rather than the whole exam. With many colleges shifting to a superscoring policy, which allows students to factor in the highest scores from each section of all of the exams they have taken, the ACT administrators have announced that they will be rolling out an option for students to retake up to three sections instead of all four. The requirements to do so are that the student must have taken one full exam to receive a composite score.


The primary reason for this new opportunity is that research has shown that allowing students to focus their energy on specific sections will allow them to better demonstrate their skills. For example, if a student has scored a 35 on English and a 36 on math, they will most likely not want to have to retake both sections just so they can improve their reading and science scores. Doing so will deplete them of much of their energy and will mitigate their chances of getting a higher score.


As for the actual dates to take part in section retesting, the opportunity to do so will be provided on the same days as the full ACTs, and students can retake any subject as many times as they would like.


Although the ability to retake certain sections was supposed to be rolled out by now, the ACT has announced that they will be postponing the opportunity to maximize the capacity in all of the test centers that they have for students who are looking to take the full exam. There is currently no solidified date set in stone for when students can partake in this opportunity, but more information regarding the policy will be released over time.


Over the past few months, standardized testing has certainly gone through various changes. With the SAT discarding subject tests and the essay and the ACT moving towards remote testing and section retesting, there is no doubt that there will be more changes coming our way in the near future. Until then, the best thing that students can do is to continue studying and preparing themselves for the upcoming exams.


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