ACT Changes Testing Policy for 2020

Clare Canavan, Editor in Chief

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ACT announced on Tuesday, October 8th, big changes to the way the company will admistrate tests. 

Starting in September 2020, after students take the ACT test as a whole at least once, they can register to take one of the five sections, Reading, English, Math, Science, or Writing, individually. 

This will allow students to improve their superscore by retaking the individual sections. The writing section is optional, so the four required sections make up your composite and superscore. A composite score is your average from 1 to 36 on each section from one test, and a superscore works by taking your top score from each test taken and averaging them. Currently, the superscore requires students to submit all of their tests for colleges to calculate the superscore. After the changes are made, colleges will only be able to see the individual sections the student chooses to submit. 

The “new” superscore will be calculated by ACT after you take all four required sections of the test, even if taken at different times. 

ACT believes that this new superscore will allow colleges to see a better prediction of how students will perform in college level courses. 

Some critics are not sure how colleges will look at the “new superscore.” Kent Rinehart, Dean of Undergraduate Admission at Marist College says that he will accept this new superscore to “present students in the most favorable light.” 

Now, “admissions officers will have to consider whether it is fair to compare the superscores of students who retook the whole test with those of students who retook just part of it,” says Rinehart. 

According to Mary Michael Pontzer, ACT’s vice president of products, another benefit of the new testing procedure is reduced stress for students.  

“The changes are meant to better serve students and spare them unnecessary time taking tests,” said Pontzer. 

ACT has not announced how much retaking one part of the test will cost, but they did reveal that it will be cheaper than taking the entire test again. Currently, without taking the writing section, the test costs $52, and with the writing it costs $68. 

The other big change to the ACT is that students can choose to take the test online. This will allow students to receive scores in two business days compared to the previous two to eight weeks. The online test will be the same cost as the paper version, but students will receive their results faster.

All of these changes leave the question in the minds of students and administrators if the SAT will soon make similar changes to their tests.