Changes to the ACT

We have a slew of tests approaching in the next few weeks, with the PSAT this week, the October ACT next week, and the November ACT the week after that. Good luck to all of the test-takers!

This month, the ACT announced a significant change starting in September 2020: students will be allowed to retake individual sections of the test to improve their super scores. While there are a number of interesting benefits and complications associated with this change, students in the class of 2021 should NOT consider this single-section retesting as part of their testing processes. Several months are needed to see if the change even sticks.

Students can only utilize single section retesting if they have previously taken an entire ACT. But, while the main test is given pencil-and-paper, the single sections will be administered by computer. Certain sections – Math and Science in particular – are more difficult to complete on the computer, and ACT has not announced any counterbalance to this increase in difficulty.  

Computer availability will also be a potential obstacle. ACT host schools often give the test to hundreds of students on test day, yet there are not hundreds of computers available at each test site. As such, scheduling time for single section retesting is likely to be difficult. 

Lastly, single section retesting makes the ACT easier. On the surface, that sounds great, but if many students use single section retesting, ACT scores will naturally inflate. Colleges will quickly catch on, and the score demands for admissions will rise along with the rise in overall test scores. Colleagues have speculated that some schools may only accept full test scores, or super scores from full tests, thus reducing the value of single section retesting to near zero or zero at some schools. 

Students in the class of 2022 may have single section retesting as a real option in their testing processes. For current juniors, however, all test preparation plans should proceed as if this plan is not available. In the end, like the SAT’s short-lived Adversity Index, the plan may collapse under questions and doubts. 

Please contact us with any questions you might have!