Changes in the ACT National Extended Time Policy – An A+ Update

October 31, 2018 

clock showing almost midnight

Change is coming to the ACT test.

As of September of this year, the ACT changed its National Extended Time policy (Timing Code 6 – 50% extended time).

Previously, students who were granted extended time on the ACT under Timing Code 6 were allowed 5 hours to complete four test sections (English, Math, Reading, and Science). Students were traditionally permitted to move from section to section at their own speeds (known as self-pacing).

This has changed.

The new guidelines do not significantly reduce a test taker’s total time. However, each student’s pacing is more rigorously defined. Four and a half hours are divided into:

  • Test 1 (English)—70 minutes
  • Test 2 (Math)—90 minutes
  • Test 3 (Reading)—55 minutes
  • Test 4 (Science)—55 minutes

Each section is divided by what is known as a “hard stop”—that is, all students stop working at the same time. 

One of the reasons ACT gives for the decision to change is to make its test “more consistent with industry standards.” The landscape of standardized testing being what it is, this means accommodations more consistent with standards that the College Board sets with the SAT. Although ACT’s policy statement does not specifically reference the SAT, it explains that, “other high-stakes tests provide extended time with a hard stop for each subject area.” A look at the College Board’s site confirms that SAT extended time accommodations are provided per section.

ACT also maintains that the new system will “improve fairness” and eliminate the need for test monitors to assist test-takers who have trouble self-pacing.

What does this mean for your test-taker?

A+ recommends you take several steps to ensure that you get the accommodations with which you and your test-taker feel most comfortable.

  • Explore all your options. ACT reminds parents and students that the “ACT provides a variety of accommodations of which timing code 6/National extended time is only one.” Other possible ACT accommodations include use of a computer or scribe, assistance marking responses, audio tests, and testing spread out over several days.
  • Consider an alternate test. An excellent way to gauge which standardized test is best for your student is to have him or her take an A+ proctored practice diagnostic of each type. Our directors will score the results and provide you with detailed analyses and recommendations.
  • Plan to take the test more than once. Using the first test as a “dry run” sometimes yields a surprisingly high score. Even if the results are not so great, your student’s second attempt will benefit from being that much more familiar with the test format and testing procedures.

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our focus is always on you. Our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you would like more information, our Client Service Directors Anne Stanley and Susan Ware are available to answer questions and provide solutions. You may reach either of them by calling A+ Test Prep and Tutoring at 215-886-9188.


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