Should The SAT And ACT Be Untimed?

June 14, 2010 

A recent article in the Washington Post questions the value of requiring students to take the SAT and ACT under time constraints. Should students be given the opportunity to take these exams without having to worry about time limits?

Here are some pros and cons to consider when thinking about changing the policy of setting time limits on the SAT and ACT.

Untimed Test Administration of the SAT and ACT


  • Decreased time-induced pressure for test-takers
  • Results would be a ‘truer’ indicator of student’s ability
  • Removes one advantage wealthier students have (being able to get tested and receive the diagnosis allowing for them to receive extra time to take these tests)


  • Untimed testing has the potential to make it easier to cheat, since some students will finish the test while others are still taking the test
  • Due to this increase in the potential for cheating, tests will need to become more secure, which will increase the costs to administer, and will ultimately increase student testing fees
  • A possible unintended consequence would be that some students would spend much more time than necessary sitting for the test, due to an erroneous belief that the extra time would improve their score.

Interesting food for thought!


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