Breaking Down the Changes to the ACT

Changes to the ACT

Changes are coming to the ACT. Starting September 2020, the ACT will offer three new testing options to students: individual section retesting, online testing, and superscoring.

Students who have already taken the ACT will have the option to retake individual sections of the test, rather than retake the whole exam. They’ll also have the option to superscore their individual sections. These changes are huge and have the potential to shakeup the test-prep industry (take the L, College Board). More on these two changes later.

With online testing, students will be able to receive their results faster than ever–within just two days. This is compared to the excruciating two to four week wait for the results of the paper exam. Big news for students who think paper exams are dated and want his or her score reports delivered at lightning speeds.

What this means for the test-prep industry

The College Board will have to respond. In fact, it’s in their best interest to. Ignoring the changes to the ACT would hurt their bottom line. Think about it: who’s going to take the SAT when you could just take each section of the ACT individually? Why make things harder on yourself? The College Board must adapt, or they risk losing students to the ACT. Expect the College Board to respond with similar measures. Otherwise, they lose their grip on the industry, and they don’t want that.

And the question on everyone’s mind: are we moving toward a test-optional admissions process? Well, some schools are already there. Others may be moving toward that point in the near future. It’s a tricky dilemma–if standardized tests are taken away, what new metric will replace it? Will GPA be weighted higher in admissions? Or does a more objective metric exist? This debate is beyond the scope of this post, but I encourage you to check out the facts and decide for yourself.

What this means for students

A win.

These new changes to the ACT have broad-sweeping consequences. Individual section retesting and superscoring could benefit students with attention and anxiety disorders the most. If you have ADHD or ADD, what’s the better option? A four hour test or a 35-minute to one hour test? The choice is easy. Even for students without these disorders, taking one section at a time will dramatically reduce burnout and stress.

Now let’s talk about the ACT financially. Students from low-income families have a lot to gain with these new changes. It costs $46 to take all four sections of the test. And if you choose to send your scores to colleges, that’s $12 per test. Those costs add up, especially if you take the ACT more than once, and especially, like most students, if you send your scores to six or more colleges. With superscoring and individual section retaking, expect these costs to be cut in half. ACT has confirmed that individual section retesting will be cheaper, and instead of sending out multiple tests to colleges, you could opt to send out your superscored test.

But really this is a win for all students. Consider this: you’ve just received your results for the full-length ACT. Your scores are near perfect, with the exception of the math section. So what’s the plan? With single section retesting and superscoring, you can dedicate all of your efforts to math. No need to take the reading section, no need to take the science section. This is the beauty of these updates to the ACT–you can focus solely on what you need to improve.

What this means for the future

This is uncharted territory. There are quite a few unknowns with all of these changes. No one knows how colleges or the College Board will respond. For example, will higher ACT scores become more common? If so, does that mean those scores become less meaningful? What about score equivalency between ACT and SAT? If scoring higher on the ACT is easier, then will higher SAT scores be more sought after? No one knows what’s going to happen, but for now, starting in September, the choice is clear.

Take the ACT.