On October 8, 2019, the ACT ® announced changes that will give students more test options and quicker results.

“Students come first at ACT, and these groundbreaking new options will directly benefit them, providing more choices, an improved testing experience, and a better opportunity to showcase their readiness and reach their maximum potential,” said Suzana Delanghe, ACT chief commercial officer, in a press release.

The three major changes are:

  • ACT Section Retesting
  • Online Testing Option
  • Superscoring

In this post, we’ll explain what these changes are and how they will affect students planning to take the test next year.

ACT Section Retesting

Beginning in September 2020, students will have the option to retake certain sections of the ACT exam rather than the entire test.

This means that if you take the test September 2020 or later, you’re allowed to retake up to three specific sections (English, math, reading, science, and/or writing) instead of the whole test.

However, the test retakes are only available online, so you can’t take the paper version even if the original test was taken on paper.

Section retests are only available to students who have already taken the test. The first time around, you have to take the full test.

The content, timing, and number of questions on the section retake option will remain the same as if you were to take the full test. The only difference is you’re allowed to focus on specific sections versus the entire test.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see our top students push the limits to achieve perfect section scores,” says David Dillard, president of KD College Prep. “We’ll have to wait to see how colleges react to the change.”

Section retakes will be offered on the same dates as the national ACT test dates that occur seven times throughout the year. Students taking the section retests will test in a different room than students taking the full exam.

The cost per section retake is not yet clear. ACT will announce cost once it is finalized.

How does the retake option help students?

By taking only certain sections of the test versus the whole package, you’ll be able to focus on certain areas that need improvement.

This retesting option gives students the opportunity to improve their scores without having to stress out about retaking the entire test. The full ACT test is nearly three hours long. That’s a lot of time spent straining your brain to perform at its best.

If you retake only one section, your testing time will range from 35-60 minutes.

If you suffer from test anxiety, this option is particularly helpful to you. The retest option reduces the pressure you may normally feel from taking the full test.


ACT recently announced that they will soon change their reporting practices to include a “superscore.”

This means that when a student takes the test or sections of the tests multiple times, only their strongest score for each section will be counted in the superscore that is reported to colleges.

how act superscoring works

ACT will give students the option of choosing the superscore reporting method over the traditional score report, although some colleges may require the traditional report.

Some colleges have already started looking at superscores when reviewing college applications. To find out if the colleges on your list already accept superscores, contact the schools’ admissions departments. A KD Director can also provide you with this information for select colleges.

Online Testing

Starting September 2020, students will be able to choose between taking the test online or on paper.

“The ACT has long wanted to have students test online, but the organization struggled to scale the program,” Dillard says. “Until ACT has a history of successful, widespread online testing on national test dates, KD College Prep will recommend the paper-based version.”

Students who choose to take the test online will receive their scores much faster than those who take the paper test. ACT projects that online testers will receive their multiple-choice and composite scores as early as two business days after the test.

Online testing will occur at designated test centers. Students will use desktops or other devices provided by the testing center.

ACT originally started offering online testing to select groups in 2015. The college admissions test company says there are currently no plans to move to a completely online testing model. It simply will offer the online test as an additional option for national test takers.

Before taking the test online, ACT recommends that students take the free online ACT practice test to get more familiar with the online testing format.

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