The ACT Broadens Its Appeal by Offering Section Retakes

by Jenna Timmons ’21

In the past few years, the SAT has surpassed the ACTS as the most commonly taken test, with 2 million students taking the SAT and 1.9 million students taking the ACT in 2018. Also, many colleges are beginning to not require standardized testing to be considered for admission. These factors together pushed for the ACT to make some changes to its exam.

Starting in September 2020, the ACT will start to offer section retakes. Students still need to take the full exam at least once, but then retakes on a specific section become available. For example, if a student does poorly on the English section during the full ACT exam, then they can just take that section instead of the entire test during the next testing period.

“Section retests are identical in the content covered, timing, and the number of questions for each ACT section test,” according to, “Section retesting will be offered seven times a year, on the same dates as the national ACT test. 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.”

Some students feel that these retakes will be beneficial, and ACT research shows that the individual section tests are consistent with the scores earned on the entire tests. The section retakes are intended as a convenient and helpful new way for students to focus on a single subject area.

Some students feel that the retake option will further polarize and even inflate ACT scores. “It could possibly be good, but you would have to do better because colleges know you can retake it,” said junior Sonyah Ngwafang.

With these section scores, most colleges will take the highest one from each section and “superscore” them to obtain the highest possible test scores.

“The ability to customize test results in this way could make test prep even more important than it is now, disadvantaging those who cannot afford it or are not advised to seek it out,” said Sally Rubenstone, senior contributor at College Confidential, an online admissions forum.