New ACT format may benefit students


Alonna Johnson

SENIOR Alan Zhang bubbles in his personal information, a process that may be phased out completely with this new ACT format. Zhang was one of the 17 WHHS students who got a perfect score on the ACT last school year.

On Oct. 8, ACT made the announcement that in November 2020, students will be able to retake single sections of the test. This coming from research made by the company itself stating, “we believe section retesting showcases students’ skills and accomplishments gained over a lifetime and not only their test-taking abilities on one particular day.”

With the college application and scholarship season upon us, many SENIORS are retaking the standardized tests to reach their final and, hopefully, highest score. Some students utilize practice tests and tutoring sessions. Part of the reasoning behind the ACT’s choice was that it would “best show their [the students] knowledge,” the company said. “[Section retesting] helps students focus their study efforts solely on the areas in which they want to improve their scores.”

With the individual section retaking, students have the chance to get higher scores each time they take it. “[It] benefits the students… because… more people will get higher scores. The higher scores will become more [frequent],” SENIOR Meoshea Britt said.

SENIOR Mohit Pinniti, one of the 17 WHHS students that received a 36 on February’s ACT exam thought the change to be negative. “You should have to take the whole thing at once because if you’re studying for each section specifically then what’s the point. In the short term, sure, but in the long term, it’s really going to devalue ACT scores if you can study for individual sections.”

We believe section retesting showcases students’ skills and accomplishments gained over a lifetime and not only their test-taking abilities on one particular day.”

— ACT, Inc.

This is not the only new change: students who are taking the retakes will be able to take it online. “ACT section retests are only available online. Students are required to use laptops or computers provided by the testing center. They are not allowed to use their own equipment,” Amanda Siler, who is in charge of test prep at the College Information Center, said. Siler had some reservations about the change. “I am a firm believer in paper and pencil testing. It allows for more interaction with the test with the ability to annotate text and write out calculations. Though some capabilities could be added to online testing, the process is not as natural and freeing as being able to write by hand wherever and however is most helpful to the student,” Siler said.

The ACT created its own research in the process, yet problems with how colleges will accept the scores and the effectiveness of the retesting is a concern for the students, parents and teachers. “It will be interesting to see how many of the colleges accept the individual tests, especially before significant data is available about the reliability of the section tests as an indicator of college success,” Siler said. As of Oct. 29, there has been no word from any colleges or universities discussing the new change or creating a new policy for the matter.

Section retesting for the ACT is available for students that have already taken the entire ACT. “Students may take up to three section retests on any one test date, though there are no limits on the number of times a student may take a retest,” the company said.