The ACT online test is coming in September.

ACT Update: Online Testing Plan

We’ve been carefully monitoring ACT, Inc. for updates to the exam in light of ongoing changes from COVID-19. After this week’s latest announcement, here’s a summary of what’s going on regarding ACT online testing.

What Did ACT Announce?

On Thursday, June 18th, 2020, ACT, Inc. announced that they were postponing the September roll out of the section retesting program. Instead, they will begin a limited roll out of online testing in September.

What Is Section Retesting?

Section retesting was previously scheduled to begin in September 2020. It meant that students could sign up to take one or more individual ACT sections, rather than the entire test. This was only designed to be available for students who had already taken a full ACT at least once. This offer is part of the ACT’s newly official support of superscoring. That is a practice in which students submit multiple test scores during the application process. Colleges then utilize the best individual section results of different test dates.

How will ACT Administer Online Testing?

ACT plans to set up online testing at high schools that are already ACT testing sites. This is unlike the College Board, which first promised and then walked back a plan to let students take the SAT in their own homes via computer. In September, a tiny number of public high schools will be the first to allow students to take the ACT as a computer-based test. If the first administration is successful, ACT will then expand the number of public high schools which can offer the ACT on computers during each subsequent test date.

Why Is the ACT Online Testing in Schools?

ACT has attempted to hold computer-based tests for over a decade. It hasn’t yet been successful in this initiative. By holding the tests in schools, ACT can depend on local school districts to help with technical issues. Additionally, holding “online” testing in schools should help reduce the number of students crowding into testing rooms.

Why Roll Out Online Testing Now?

In short: it is due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis. ACT is reducing the number of students in each high school classroom during Saturday administrations of the exam. This is an attempt to meet social distancing requirements in various states. ACT was forced to close hundreds of testing sites for the June 13th test date. They will only be able to hold the ACT this fall if they can guarantee a minimum six-foot distance between students taking a paper-based version of the ACT.

What About Remote and In-Home Testing?

ACT says it still plans to roll out in-home, remote, computer-based online testing later. This may come in the autumn or early winter. They will not do so unless they can guarantee that they can prevent cheating. Additionally, there are concerns that some students will be left at a disadvantage regarding in-home administration. Not all students have access to either a computer or the internet at home.

What if My Child Wants to Take the ACT on Paper?

We strongly recommend that students register as early as possible. Testing sites are going to get full very quickly, as space will likely be limited — this will likely be the case for online tests as well.
As always, we’re here to offer continued support to families during this time. Please reach out if there are any questions we can answer to help you navigate academic resources, test prep, or college admission.


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