Point: Should students be able to take one ACT section at a time?

Noah Loewy, Amber Kakkar, and Zach Siegel, Opinions Editor and Assistant Opinions Editors

This past September, ACT.inc announced a series of changes that will be implemented in the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. For example, students will be given the option to take the exam digitally, allowing them to receive their score reports faster and make decisions about applying for scholarships and colleges in a more timely fashion.

Unlike the digital testing option, which has been universally praised, the ACT’s second major change has been subject to widespread criticism: section retaking. Starting next September, students will be able to retake specific sections in order to improve their “super-score,” as opposed to being forced to take the entire test.

However, the majority of the criticism is unwarranted, as section retakes will be very useful for a student who is satisfied with their scores in English, reading, and science, for example, but not math. Now, students struggling with one specific section will be given the opportunity to allocate all of their resources towards one specific subject area, as opposed to having to spread out their study-time four ways.

“Section retakes are a very valuable thing for students wanting to retake their ACTs. It allows students to focus on their problem areas and not having to re-study the whole test again,” said sophomore Emily Djohan. “Also, anything to help reduce the stress and anxiety that is associated with ACT prep and the test itself is always beneficial.”

Additionally, it is neither fair nor practical for a student to have to sit through a grueling four-hour exam when they only need to retake one forty-minute section.

“I think it’s great to take all of the sections separately because then students don’t have to deal with the stress of taking all at once,” said junior Tyler Kahrar.

Opponents of the recent changes often argue that colleges will stop allowing super-scoring because there will be too many high-scoring students. However, this is not the case because the ACT weighs each test before administering it to ensure that each exam is roughly the same difficulty. Also, colleges know whether or not an exam is taken over multiple days, and they often take that into account when reviewing an application.

According to ACT.org, the ACT chief commercial officer, Suzana Delanghe, says that superscoring can be more predictive of how students will perform in their college courses than other scoring methods.

Additionally, the new system allows students to save money. Prior to this new rule, the ACT had to be retaken as a whole, meaning the student not only had to allocate time studying for four sections, but they also had to pay for the test as a whole. The test costs $52 without the optional writing section, and $68 with it. The ACT officials said taking an individual section will be cheaper, however, they have not decided on a set price yet.

“I took the ACT a few times,” said senior Justin Hill. “If section retakes were available when I took the test, I think I would have saved a lot of time and money.”

A record number of colleges and universities have dropped their testing requirements.

During the past year, 47 schools have made tests like the ACT and SAT optional in their admissions process. Considering this, the number of students taking the ACT has dropped. By making test taking both cheaper and more effective, the ACT board is trying to encourage test-taking as an academic skill, and reverse this drop in testing requirements. Along with high school grades, courses taken, and extracurricular activities, tests such as these allow a uniform standard for colleges to compare students from across the country and around the world.

Allowing students to take certain, isolated sections of the ACT can drastically help their test scores and in many ways, allows students to do as well as they can on each section.