Changes Coming to the ACT

There are big changes coming to the testing world in 2020. Starting in the fall ACT will go to computer-based testing, and if history is any indication SAT won’t be far behind. While the shift will take time, everything is eventually going to go to a computer. ACT has already been using computer-based testing internationally exclusively for a year, and graduate exams (MCAT, LSAT, etc.) have already made the change as well.

Test security is driving the change. Paper tests make it too easy to cheat as test forms are recycled and used across time zones and geographies. With computer-adaptive testing there are massive problem banks too large to memorize and no two students will receive the same test.

There will be several tools available that can support good test taking strategies. A line-reader making tool will help you focus on what you’re reading. An answer masking tool will allow you to cover the possible answers, determine your answer and then uncover the choices. You can also use an answer tool eliminator to narrow your attention as you eliminate answers. One of the most helpful tools is a bookmarking tool so you can bookmark questions you want to come back to. There will also be a built-in timer and 5-minute warning that pops up on the screen so you will no longer have to rely on a proctor to give you notice. There are always those nightmare stories of proctors forgetting to let students know that time is running out. Maybe the best part is that you will typically receive scores within 2 days!

While there is no doubt it’s coming, the shift to computer-based testing will take time. We don’t know how many sites will offer computer-based training and there may be issues with supply and demand of seats, staffing and digital infrastructure. It will be important to register early. Registration opens in July for September 2020 tests. Mark your calendars!