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ACT to allow students to retake individual sections

<h6>Marcia Brown / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Marcia Brown / The Daily Princetonian

On Oct. 8, the ACT, which designs an aptitude test often submitted in college applications, announced changes to the standardized test to be implemented beginning September 2020. The most significant of these changes is the introduction of section retesting, which, according to the ACT, will allow students who have taken the test previously to “retake individual sections of the ACT test instead of the entire exam.” 

In previous years, students who wished to improve their score on a single section had to retake the entire test, which costs $46 and takes three hours to complete. 


The ACT is comprised of four mandatory sections — English, math, reading, and science — along with an optional writing section. Each section is scored separately on a scale of one to 36, with the composite score being an average of all four sections. 

The new change will allow students to retest “only in areas needing improvement.” ACT believes this is a better test of students’ abilities, as it “showcases [students’] skills and accomplishments gained over a lifetime and not only their test-taking abilities on one particular day.”

Section retests will be administered on the same days as the entire test. The ACT has yet to make an announcement regarding the cost of section retests. 

ACT section retesting arrives as part of a growing movement to overhaul the current standardized testing system, particularly amid concerns that current testing practices may privilege students with the means to afford test-specific tutoring. According to The Washington Post, from September 2018 to September 2019, 50 accredited universities and colleges dropped the testing requirement from their application process, a record number to do so.

The SAT’s “adversity score” — a proposed, but later abandoned, addition to SAT test results, which would rate a student’s school and neighborhood environment on a 1–100 scale — represented another attempt to combat the issues with the current standardized testing system. 

University first-years said they remember test-taking season well and reacted positively to the news of section retesting. 


“I feel like that’s fabulous,” Benjy Jude ’23 said. “It will reduce stress for other teens who are thinking of taking it twice … and who A, don’t want to spend 75 billion dollars and B, don’t want to spend their whole Saturday morning and three weeks before studying everything.”

“It would be nice if the SAT did that as well,” Madeline Buswell ’23 added. 

According to an email statement from Deputy University Spokesperson Mike Hotchkiss, the University is currently reviewing the change and how it will affect admissions, if at all. Alongside section retesting, the ACT announced the implementation of online testing, which will allow students to receive their results within two days, rather than two weeks.

The ACT additionally announced that students will be able to send their test superscores — the combination of their best section scores across multiple ACT tests and section retests — to universities. These changes will also take place beginning in September 2020.

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