On October 8th, 2019, the ACT put out a press release announcing some big changes that they’re planning to implement in 2020. These three impactful changes have to do with how the test is proctored and how scores are reported. These changes may greatly alter the test taking and college application process for students who choose to focus on the ACT.
The first major change that the ACT is making is likely geared toward make the test more competitive with the SAT. The number of students who took the SAT last year hit an all time high, and the ACT is probably looking to gain back some of that market share. Historically, many colleges have allowed super scoring on the SAT while significantly fewer have allowed super scoring on the ACT. The ACT is trying to bridge that gap for students.
Super scoring is the process by which colleges only look at the best scores for each section over multiple test dates. For example, if your best English score was on a test in June but your best math score was on a test in July, super scoring policies allow you to build a new score with your best from each. The press release makes it sounds like the ACT will now be doing this in house. Whereas previously you would have to pay to send all your tests in to the colleges who would then build your super score (and see your lower scores), it seems that the ACT will now do that for you. As long as they don’t charge a fee for this service this will likely save students a fair amount of money in score reporting fees. In addition, more colleges will likely accept super scoring for the ACT. Keep in mind that the rising tide lifts all boats. ACT scores for all students may increase with this new policy. While we aren’t sure on the details of the policy yet, it should be a time, stress, and money saver.
The second big change is probably the one that students will like the most. The ACT has announced that they will allow students to retake individual portions of the test. While details aren’t out yet on how this would work, this is a big change from the previous policy that forced students to retake the entire test even if they only wanted to improve one section score. Policy details will impact this greatly. They may only allow students to retake one portion, or have other restrictions. However, this is still a huge boon for several reasons: it will hopefully allow students to focus only on where they think needs improvement, it will give students who get worn out taking a three to four hour test the opportunity to break the test up into manageable portions, and it will allow students to take tests without less testing anxiety since their entire score won’t be dependent on one day’s work.
The final change seems to indicate that the ACT is moving to online testing. Whereas previously, the ACT only allowed students to take the test online if they were testing on a in-school test, they will soon have the online option on the national test dates as well. While online testing has its pros and cons as we discussed in our blog here, for some students (especially those who test with certain accommodations or who are on time crunch to get scores back) this will be an enormous help.
Altogether, these are positive changes. Test prep providers like BWS will be able to better tailor content to students who are focusing on just one part of the test, students will be able to get their scores back sooner through online testing, and students will have more control over the tests they take and the scores they send out. While some people feel that standardized tests are outdated and antiquated, the ACT is proving them wrong by continually listening to the needs of the students and adjusting their policies accordingly. Read the full press release on the ACT blog.