Everything you need to know about the major ACT Exam Changes

The ACT (American College Testing) exam has long been a crucial component of college admissions in the United States, assessing a student’s readiness for higher education. Over the years, the ACT has undergone several changes to better align with evolving educational standards and meet the needs of students. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the major ACT exam changes, shedding light on what students, parents, and educators need to know.

Introduction to the ACT Exam

The ACT is a standardized test designed to evaluate high school students’ proficiency in English, mathematics, reading, and science. The ACT test includes an elective writing section as well. Many colleges and universities in the United States use ACT scores as part of their admissions criteria, alongside other factors like GPA, extracurricular activities, and recommendation letters.

Key Components of the ACT Exam


The English section assesses a student’s understanding of grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetorical skills. The goal is to evaluate the ability to express ideas clearly and effectively in written form.


The Mathematics section assesses proficiency in mathematical skills and problem-solving capabilities. It encompasses subjects such as algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Calculators are allowed for certain portions of this section.


The Reading section evaluates the capacity to understand and analyze written passages. It includes questions related to main ideas, details, inferences, and the author’s reasoning.


The Science section evaluates skills in interpreting and analyzing scientific information presented in various formats. It assesses critical thinking and data analysis rather than specific scientific knowledge.

Writing (Optional)

While the Writing section is optional, many colleges require or recommend it. It involves crafting an essay response to a prompt, demonstrating the ability to generate and organize ideas effectively.

Recent Changes to the ACT Exam

In response to feedback from educators, students, and colleges, the ACT has introduced significant changes aimed at enhancing the test’s relevance and fairness. Some of the notable modifications include:

  1. Section Retesting

One of the most significant changes is the introduction of section retesting. Starting in September 2020, students have the option to retake individual sections of the ACT instead of the entire test. This allows for a more focused approach, enabling students to concentrate on specific areas for improvement.

  1. Online Testing

The ACT is moving towards offering an online testing option in addition to the traditional paper-and-pencil format. Online testing provides faster results and allows for a more interactive user experience. This change aligns with the broader trend in education towards digital assessments.

  1. Superscoring

ACT introduced superscoring, allowing students to submit their best section scores from multiple test attempts. This benefits students who may perform exceptionally well in specific subjects during different test sessions, providing colleges with a more comprehensive view of their capabilities.

  1. Faster Results

With the implementation of online testing, ACT aims to provide faster score results. This expedited turnaround can be advantageous for students applying to colleges with tight application deadlines.

  1. Free Test Prep

Recognizing the importance of test preparation, ACT has partnered with Khan Academy to offer free online test preparation resources. This initiative aims to make high-quality test preparation accessible to a broader range of students, promoting equity in the college admissions process.

Impact on Test-Takers

These changes have several implications for students preparing for the ACT:

Targeted Improvement

Section retesting allows students to focus on specific areas for improvement, tailoring their preparation to address weaknesses identified in previous attempts.


The option for online testing provides flexibility for students who may prefer a digital environment. It also aligns with the increasing use of technology in educational settings.


Strategic Planning

Superscoring encourages students to strategically plan their test attempts, emphasizing their strengths and presenting the best possible overall profile to colleges.

Wider Access to Preparation

The collaboration with Khan Academy expands access to high-quality test preparation resources, reducing barriers for students who may not have had access to traditional test prep services.

Preparing for the ACT

With these changes in mind, effective preparation for the ACT remains crucial. Here are some tips for students:

Understand the Format

Familiarize yourself with the format of the ACT, including the number of sections, types of questions, and time constraints.

Take Practice Tests

Practice tests provide a simulated exam experience and help identify areas that may need improvement. Use official ACT practice materials for an accurate representation of the test.

Focus on Weak Areas

If opting for section retesting, concentrate on improving specific subject areas to maximize the benefits of this new feature.

Utilize Online Resources

Take advantage of the free test preparation resources offered by Sage Education and other reputable online platforms. These resources can complement traditional study materials.

Consider Online Testing

If comfortable with digital testing environments, consider taking advantage of the online testing option. Familiarize yourself with the online interface through practice tests.


As the ACT continues to evolve, staying informed about these changes is essential for students planning to take the exam. The introduction of section retesting, online testing, superscoring, and free test preparation resources reflects a commitment to enhancing the test-taking experience and promoting fairness in college admissions. By understanding these changes and strategically approaching test preparation, students can navigate the ACT with confidence and present their best selves to colleges and universities.

In the competitive landscape of college admissions, the ACT exam remains a pivotal aspect of a student’s academic journey. Embracing these changes with strategic planning and effective preparation ensures that students not only meet the evolving requirements of college admissions but also position themselves as well-rounded individuals ready for the challenges of higher education. Stay informed, stay prepared, and embark on the path to academic success with confidence.

In the context of Dubai, where access to quality education is highly valued, students can benefit from specialized ACT Preparation in Dubai that cater to the unique needs and expectations of colleges both in the region and internationally. As the ACT remains a key factor in college admissions, being well-prepared ensures that students can showcase their academic abilities effectively and pursue their desired educational paths.

December 26, 2023

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