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Major Changes Coming to the ACT

Independent School Testing Requirements

You’ve never seen the ACT like this!


Yesterday,  the ACT announced three major changes to the administration and reporting of the test starting in September 2020.  First, students will have the option of online testing in addition to paper testing. Second, the ACT board will offer superscore reporting to colleges.  Finally, and perhaps most significantly, students who have taken the ACT once will be able to re-sit individual sections of the test as many times as they want rather than having to re-sit the entire test again.  The content and format of the test will not change.


ACT  Introduces Online Testing

  • Beginning with the September 2020 test administration, students in the United States will have the option of taking the ACT either online or on paper. Students taking the test online will be able to get their multiple-choice test results back in as soon as two business days compared to the two to eight weeks for the paper exam.
  • Initially, students will be able to take the online test only at selected test centers on national test days, but eventually all test centers will offer online testing.
  • Currently, in the United States, the test is administered only on paper on seven national test dates. The ACT Board began online testing for school day administrations in 2016 and at international testing centers in the fall of 2018.


ACT Superscore Reporting

  • ACT score reports will now include a ‘superscore’ for students who have taken the ACT more than once. A ‘superscore’ is a composite score that uses the highest section scores obtained by a student on different test administration dates.  If a student gets a 33 on the English section of one test and then receives a 35 on the next test, for example, the superscore would use the second English score to create a higher overall superscore.
  • According to the ACT Board, research suggests that “superscoring is more predictive of how students will perform in their college courses than other scoring methods.” (ACT Press Release, 10/8/19).
  • Currently, students can send in score reports from any testing dates they choose, and colleges can elect to superscore if that is their policy. The change in the policy is simply that ACT will now report the superscore rather than students sending in all score reports.
  • Under the new policy, ACT will provide colleges “at least one full composite score with each superscore, plus all of the scores from the test events that are part of the superscore composite.” (ACT, Inc.)


ACT Section Retesting  

  • For the first time, students who have already taken the ACT will be able to retake individual sections of the test rather than having to retake the full test again. So, if a student is happy with all his section scores except for math, for example, he can elect to retake only the math section of the test.
  • Section retesting will be available online only, but it doesn’t matter if a student took his or her initial test on paper.
  • For most students, this shift represents the biggest change of those announced. Now, students can focus on only those sections they wish to improve, and they can take those sections as many times as they wish.  Students can elect to retake sections one at a time or they can take up to three sections on one day.  Section retakes will be incorporated into a student’s superscore.
  • The content and format of the sections will be no different for individual section testing than on full tests. For now, section testing is not available for state or school district testing.

Important  Takeaways:

  • All changes announced take effect in September 2020 meaning that the Class of 2021 or current juniors will be the first class who can take advantage of them.
  • Students may sign up for a section retake for the first time in July 2020 for a September or October test. It’s likely that online testing centers will fill up very quickly, so plan ahead!  Remember that students must have taken a full length exam before they can take any section retakes.
  • No announcements have yet been made about the costs of section retakes.
  • Although the ACT score reports now offer superscores, ultimately it is up to colleges to determine whether they accept superscores. Be sure to check the superscoring policy of any college to which you’re applying.
  • Additionally, some schools will still require students to submit the scores of all tests they have taken so please discuss with your tutor and counselor before taking an ACT test or section.


For more information, check out this article from the ACT website.





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