ACT enACTs changes

ACT+enACTs+changes

By Evan Lu, Staff Reporter

Starting in the fall of 2020, students nationwide will take a different version of the ACT. Three major changes will come to the standardized exam: individual section retesting, superscoring and the option of online testing. 

The ACT is a four-section standardized test with an optional writing section. ACT scores are used by many colleges to determine an applicant’s academic proficiency. Currently, the scores of the English, mathematics, reading and science subsections are combined and averaged to calculate a test taker’s composite score. Individual section retesting, one of the new changes, will alter the way the ACT is taken by allowing students to retake an individual section or up to three sections per sitting.

Senior Vivaan Mahtab, who has taken both the ACT and SAT, views the change with mixed feelings.  

“I don’t see how this is any different from the (SAT) Subject Tests then because you can honestly just focus on studying for one (ACT section test) at a time. It’s no longer a cumulative knowledge test,” Mahtab said.

The second change, “superscoring,” will take a student’s top score from each section (if the student takes a section more than once) and use that for the final, composite score colleges see. The SAT already officially endorses this practice, but up until now, the ACT has stated that it is not meant to be superscored. 

The final change, the ability to take the ACT online, has not been offered by the ACT or SAT before. Online tests will be available at designated testing centers and will be administered using desktop computers or other provided devices. While students can still opt to take the ACT on paper, online testing will return their results within two business days as opposed to the longer wait times for the paper test results.

Junior Tommy Parisi, who has taken the ACT and PSAT, appreciates the option to take the ACT online. 

“I would take it online, probably just because you’re getting scores back faster. I took (the ACT on paper) last week, and now I have to wait like eight weeks,” Parisi said. 

On the other hand, some still prefer to test with paper and pencil. 

“I’m curious to see if the scores change at all with (online test taking). I think that if you compare (online scores and paper scores), I think scores with computers might be lower. Specifically, for reading, I would say people are much better at reading with paper than they are with computers. I would definitely opt for the paper one,” Mahtab said. 

These upcoming changes are accompanied by concerns. Some worry that the individual section retesting protocol may give unfair advantages to more privileged students since those who are more financially affluent can afford to take the test more times. 

Jennifer Kratsa, school counselor, ACT coordinator and department chair of Student Services, is not worried about the impending alterations. 

“Students that have financial need do get assistance with the ACT test. I would say that part of the downfall(s of) turning to a system like this is kids might overtest, but I do believe that overall, this is better for students and does create more access,” Kratsa said. 

Others are worried about the security of the online testing system, as hacking becomes more prevalent, and other possible negative consequences of the changes. Despite this unease, Kratsa remains unconcerned about the security of the test. 

“ACT and College Board work for years and years before they roll anything out like this,” Kratsa said. 

Instead, Kratsa reminds students to remember that their ACT scores will not define them in the eyes of admissions officers. Some schools are test optional and do not require students to submit a standardized test score, and all schools consider students’ GPA and extracurricular activities as well as their test scores.

“Colleges are always looking for reasons to accept students,” Kratsa said, “so they always look to put the students’ best foot forward. And I think it is important for kids to hear that.”