3 ACT Test Updates Coming In 2020

act 2020 updates

Beginning September 2020, students have three new ACT test updates to consider: section retesting, superscoring, and online scoring. 

According to the ACT, they “believe these new options allow students to achieve their highest possible scores and, in turn, have access to the academic and scholarship opportunities they need to build the lives they want.”

But what exactly are these new ACT test updates, and how do they benefit you?

Section Retesting

What is it?

After taking the full ACT test at least once, you can go back and take individual sections of the test. 

What are the details?

Individual section tests will take place on national test dates at testing centers. The sections tests are only offered online (more about online testing below). You can take up to three section tests at one time, and you get the same amount of time per test section that you would on the full test.

The ACT will also remove the testing limit, which was previously 12 tests. This means students can take the test, in any form, as many times as they’d like. But we must say…please don’t go take the test 20 times! You have better things to do and it’s not helping that much. 

The cost for the individual section tests has not yet been announced. However, the ACT has said that they are doubling the number of fee waivers a student can receive from 2 to 4 waivers.

We think one of the most exciting aspects of section retesting is that you can go back and take the Essay section even if you didn’t take it during your full test! So many students have taken the ACT without the essay and later found out one of the colleges they’re applying to requires it…and then they have to take the entire test again. That frustration is now solved!

Section retesting also means if you bomb one section on your full test but are happy with your other section scores, you can sign up to take just the one section on the next national test date. Hopefully, section retesting will reduce the overall anxiety surrounding the test and give students more chances to show off their abilities.

So you may be wondering how the scoring works if you’re taking individual sections. That’s where superscoring comes into play.


What is it?

“Superscoring” your ACT averages your highest section scores across all the tests you’ve taken into one composite superscore

What are the details?

Previously, you could superscore your ACT by sending all the ACT tests you took to your college. The college would then piece together your superscore from the tests. In the new option, the ACT does this step for the college. 

How is the ACT Scored?

When the ACT sends your superscore to a college, they send all your test events (full tests and section tests) but superscore your composite score. Here’s an example:

act superscore example

Say you took the test three times. To superscore, you’d take your highest section scores from each test and average them into one composite superscore. In this case, it would be 22 + 23 + 23 + 22 = 90/4 = 22.5, which rounds up to a 23! 

You don’t have to have taken the ACT in 2020 to superscore – you can superscore tests from as far back as 2016. So for example, if you had really awesome math score in 2018 and get a really awesome reading score in 2020, you can combine those two scores into a superscore! 

What Do Colleges See on My ACT Score Report?

Now, not all colleges accept superscores – you will have to check with the colleges you’re applying to about their superscore policy. But whatever their policy, if you choose to send your superscore to a college the ACT also sends them your highest regular composite score, in case the college doesn’t superscore. 

Online Testing

What is it?

Starting with the September 2020 ACT test, students have the option of taking the ACT test online at a testing center. 

What are the details?

A big benefit of testing online is the time it takes to receive your scores. The ACT has said you can receive your scores as soon as two business days after taking the test, as opposed to the two to eight weeks it takes for paper test scores to be released. This quick turnaround is particularly helpful for fall tests used in college applications, as you won’t have to wait up to eight weeks to receive your scores. 

While you’ll be able to choose between a paper test and an online test for the full ACT, section retests are only offered online. 

All online tests will be administered at testing centers. Unfortunately, you can’t take the test at home! The ACT is still configuring their online testing centers and will release the locations later this year. 

Does this Change How I Prep for the ACT?

Despite all these updates, the content of the ACT remains the same. You do not need to adjust your study strategy because of these changes. 

However, the experience of taking the test will be different if you choose to take it online. The ACT has said you’ll be provided with scratch paper if you take the test online, and will have a number of tools, including a line reader and highlighter, to help you navigate the test.

Our online ACT course is a great way to practice taking the test online – since the course is completely online, any strategies you use to complete the course are the same strategies you’d use for the online test. We recommend having scratch paper and a pencil on hand for solving math questions, taking notes on the passages, and marking which questions you’d like to come back to. 

You can also take a free online practice test that mimics the real online test from the ACT here

Three Big ACT Test Updates

Hopefully, section retesting, superscoring, and online testing makes the ACT a better experience for students and reduces the overall pressure and anxiety taking such a big test can produce. For more details about these new features and updates to come, visit www.act.org/morechoices.  

Get a better score. Get into a better school.

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