3 Changes Coming to the ACT Test in 2020

November 7, 2019 

Beginning with the administration of the September 2020 ACT test, students will have more choices for demonstrating their college aptitude. ACT has introduced section retesting, superscoring, and faster results with online testing. ACT Chief Commercial Officer Suzana Delanghe says the new changes will provide students with “a better opportunity to showcase their readiness and reach their maximum potential.” 

Add a heading (2)However, these new changes don’t come without criticism. ACT officials believe the new changes will level the playing field and help students achieve higher test scores. But critics see the changes as a strategic move as ACT attempts to compete with SAT. Though ACT was previously the most widely used test in the nation, SAT recently moved into the top position, with 2.1 million test-takers in 2018 compared to ACT’s 1.9 million. 

Section Retesting 

With the new changes, students can choose to retake only one section of the exam online. By focusing their study efforts on individual subjects—English, math, reading, science, or the optional writing test—students have a greater likelihood of boosting their scores. Plus, according to ACT, students who take the test more than once have slightly higher first-year college grades than those who test a single time. 


Students who take the ACT test multiple times will be able to send their best ACT test results to colleges, which includes their calculated ACT superscore. The superscore displays the highest possible composite score across multiple ACT test attempts and section retests. Currently, if students want colleges to see these scores, they have to send multiple test results. 

When applying for college admission and scholarships, students will be able to submit the scores that best represent their strengths and abilities. ACT has also announced that superscoring is more predictive of how students will perform in college courses than other scoring methods. 

Faster Online Results 

Tired of waiting up to eight weeks to receive your exam scores? ACT will be rolling out a digital exam option at select ACT test centers, and hopes to eventually provide this option at all of its test centers. With online testing students can receive their scores in as little as two business days. Though this change is new to the ACT, other college admissions tests including the Medical College Admission Test, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) already have online testing options. 

How Will These Changes Benefit Students? 

Like all changes that have been made to the ACT and SAT tests in recent years, only time will tell if section retesting and superscoring will positively impact test scores and level the playing field as promised. 

At the end of August, SAT announced it would abandon its adversity score on student test results after the change fell under intense scrutiny. Adversity score, which the College Board originally introduced to add more context to a student’s exam scores, considers factors such as a student’s socio-economic background, the rigor of their high school, and the neighborhood in which they grew up. Parents criticized that adversity score falsely suggested a student’s achievements and challenges could be quantified. 

Many wonder whether ACT’s superscoring will be bound by the same fate. Or, as we discussed in a previous blog post, if the ACT and SAT tests will continue to evolve as more schools become test-optional. 

For now, section retesting and superscoring will help many college-bound students navigate the competitive college admissions landscape. By focusing their test prep efforts on individual subject areas and leveraging a composite score of their best test attempts, many students will be able to breathe a sigh of relief during an already stressful time.  

Do you want to learn more about how these changes will specifically impact your student? Wondering how A+ Test Prep and Tutoring can help them prepare for retesting? Reach out to our Client Service Directors Anne Stanly or Susan Ware at 215-886-9188


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