In 2019, ACT officials announced that new changes were coming to the ACT in 2020. Starting in September 2020, students will have the option to take computer-based tests. In addition to increasing the security and efficiency of the ACT, switching to computer-based testing helps facilitate the change that’s causing the most commotion among college admissions: single-section retakes and superscoring. 

Students who learn about these changes and prepare for them can increase their confidence when they sit down with the new ACT. Let’s get started!

What Is Driving the ACT Changes?

The ACT has changed significantly since it was first introduced in 1959, and more students than ever are taking this standardized test as they make their way through the college admissions process. At its core, the ACT has always been committed to evaluating student’s college and career readiness through testing these key school subjects:

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Sience
  • Writing (optional, first introduced in 2005)

However, ACT test creators have never been one to turn down an opportunity to make student’s lives easier. The ACT was the first standardized test to allow students to use a calculator for the entire math section. By adapting to new technology and new teaching standards, the ACT makes changes to better evaluate today’s students.

Additionally, in today’s ever-connected world, there are more ways than ever for students to manipulate and cheat standardized tests. In order to make the tests truly standard and fair for everyone, the ACT officials are rolling out significant changes to how they administer their tests.

The changes to the ACT announced for 2020 are all about making students' lives easier, increasing test security, and increasing the overall efficiency of the testing system itself.

How Will the ACT Change in 2020?

Starting in September 2020, students will be given the choice to take the ACT using Computer-Based Testing (CBT). The CBT version of the ACT will function much like other tests that already use this format: students will each work their own timed sections using a computer-based testing interface.

In addition to the entire test being offered in CBT format, students will now also be granted the option to retake individual sections of the ACT. The ability to study for a single section of the test, retake that section and earn a satisfying score, and then never have to worry about that section again is game-changing!

What Isn’t So Clear About The 2020 ACT Changes

While the new changes to the ACT are exciting for a generation raised on computers, there are many details of how the new changes will be rolled out that have not been made clear yet.

  • Demand for CBT is expected to be higher than the number of prepared test sites
  • Many colleges have yet to state a firm policy on how they’ll handle single-section retakes
  • The ACT has yet to offer a clear timeline for when a total transition to CBT will happen
  • Details on how the single-section retakes will be administered are scarce

As CBT is rolled out through the latter half of 2020, these details will make themselves apparent. If you’re already in your junior or senior year of high school, these changes and uncertainties likely won’t play a large role in your college admission plan. However, freshmen and sophomores should start paying close attention to the rollout of the new ACT well before it’s their turn to take the test.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this blog series as we discuss how students can prepare and what this means for students at each age group.