ACT 2020: Upcoming Changes

The ACT has remained, in many ways, essentially unchanged for decades. That’s all about to change in September 2020 and will necessarily change the tutoring process. However, there is little to fear here. The SAT completely revamped itself twice in the past 15 years, going from a scale of 1600 to 2400 and then back to 1600, and everyone adapted successfully to the changes. Fortunately, the ACT will not be changing in such a drastic fashion; rather, it will begin offering students more options in terms of how they test starting next year.

First, the ACT will begin allowing for an in-house super-score policy, allowing students the option to have ACT, Inc., rather than college admissions officers, calculate their super-score. A super-score is the result of multiple test sittings in which the highest section scores (English, Math, Reading, Science) are recombined for a new composite score. Since fewer schools have super-scored the ACT historically, this could ultimately help students who might have been better suited to the ACT but who opted to take the SAT in hopes of maximizing their super-scores settle on the test that is best for them, thus leveling the playing field between the exams.

The ACT will also start offering students the opportunity to retake individual sections, rather than the entire test, which will allow students to concentrate on their particular weaknesses, without having to worry about focus so much on a weaker section that their stronger sections take a hit on the next test. This will allow students who are significantly stronger in particular areas to target their weaker areas without worrying about whether they are spending enough time maintaining their high scores in other sections. It is important to note that this option will only be available to students who have previously taken a full ACT. So the tutoring process will remain the same for, at least, the first ACT and then students have the option to either retake the entire test or pinpoint specific sections that need work.

Consistent with their other changes, the ACT will allow students to choose between two testing modes—paper or online. There are pros and cons to both, of course. Some people—like me—strongly prefer paper test administrations, and many of my students do as well. However, some of my students have already had the opportunity to take the online administration and loved it. The biggest benefit of the online administration lies in score release timelines. By taking the test online, students will receive their scores far sooner than if they take the test on paper, as early as two business days after their test date. I have seen countless students spend weeks fretting about their scores after their test date, so I have a vested interest in getting scores to students as soon as possible. However, I am also thrilled that students still have the option to test on paper. It is clear that the ACT is moving toward a more student-centered take on testing. Do you live on the internet and take all of your notes digitally? You can take the ACT in a format that’s familiar to you. Do you struggle to focus when looking at a screen? You can still take the ACT on paper.

Ultimately, the changes to the ACT will be nowhere near as drastic as the changes we’ve seen to the SAT in the past. These changes will benefit students by giving them more options to cater to their specific learning styles. If students could adapt to the 2016 SAT, they can definitely handle the changes coming to the ACT in 2020.


Aja B

Elite Tutor

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