Big ACT Changes. Real Big.
The ACT announced last week that, starting in September of 2020, there will be:
Individual section retakes for students who've taken the whole ACT previously.
Vince's take: This is huge news. Rather than sitting through an entire ACT retake just to raise one of your scores, you can opt to retake just one section.
Quick sidebar: Y'all do know all colleges take both the ACT and the SAT and don't prefer one over the other, right? And that that's been the case for like 15 years? Ok, just checking. Carry on.
For example, I take the ACT and get a 34 in English, Math, and Reading, but only a 28 in Science. Now I can retake and just study for and take the Science section.
The caveat: The section retakes are only going to be offered online, so you'll have to have access to a testing center that has gotten certified to offer online ACT testing (who knows how long this will take). This brings me to my next point:
(note: real students don't smile while taking a standardized test)
2. Online ACT testing will be an option.
Vince's take. If the ACT doesn't certify locations quickly, students won't have the option.
Also, taking a test on paper, for most people I know, is preferable to taking the same test online. Scrolling through a reading passage on a computer kind of sucks, as does losing the ability to annotate reading passages, Science passages, and math diagrams on paper.
3. The ACT will now offer superscoring.
Vince's take: This is a welcome change. If a student takes the ACT more than once (or retakes one or more particular sections of the test), the ACT will report a "superscore" to colleges that shows the highest score from each section of the test as well as a composite score (the average of these four highest scores).
However, the ACT will also send the schools all the scores from any test dates used to create the superscore, so colleges will have access to any lower scores as well. This is probably a vote in favor of not trying to game the system too much by, say, taking the test several times and only really working on one section each time to maximize its score.
The Bottom Line
These changes certainly can benefit students, and they make the ACT a more student-friendly test. However, it's important to note that the online option that the single-section retakes will be dependent on might not be available as soon as we hope.
It's also pretty obvious that the ACT is not only doing this to "help students" but also to help itself. Changes like this will make more students take the ACT, and take it more often, which equals more revenue and market share. But sometimes we benefit from the ACT's competition with the SAT, and this is one of those times.
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