Yesterday, ACT notified us about testing changes taking effect this coming September that will impact many of our students, perhaps making some consider taking the June or July test.
There are two significant changes.
The end of self-paced timing for students with the extended-time accommodation
Through this summer, students can apportion the extra time among the four sections as needed. Under the new policy, students will have 50% extra time per section, with a hard stop at the end of each section — just like the SAT.
Here is the official announcement:
ACT National Extended Time and ACT Special Testing Timing Code 6
Examinees approved for National Extended Time or for Timing Code 6 will have 50 percent extended time for each section of the ACT, with a hard stop after each section. Examinees will no longer have to self-pace through the four multiple-choice sections over the allotted five hours. All examinees in the test room will begin the same section at the same time and have the same amount of time to complete that section.
Timing for the writing test isn’t changing. If taking writing, examinees will continue to have 60 minutes (50 percent extended time) to respond to the writing prompt after completing the multiple-choice tests.
We believe this new policy is a major setback for students with an extended timing accommodation. Allowing students to advance to the next section at their own speed has always been a significant benefit to students with ADHD and those who need additional time on only certain sections. The current policy allows students to complete the ACT at their own speed without having to wait to move on to the next section. Beginning in September, under the new policy, students who finish a particular section in less than the allotted time will have what amounts to a required waiting period before starting the next section.
The addition of a mandatory experimental section
Starting in September, the ACT will require all students who take the test with standard timing to take a 20-minute experimental section that will not count towards their score. Here is the official announcement:
ACT National Testing Tryout Program
We are expanding the Tryout program, which helps shape the future of the ACT. On National test dates, examinees testing under standard timing conditions, whether testing with or without writing, should expect to take a fifth test after Test 4. The fifth test is 20 minutes long and doesn’t impact the examinee’s ACT Composite score or subject test scores. Examinees testing with extended time will not take the fifth test.
Not great news for students! While this change allows ACT to test and validate questions for future tests, it will have no benefit for test-takers. ACT won’t be able to fool students with this extra section, because they’ll all know it doesn’t count. In fact, some students may blow it off or simply not answer any questions. And we don’t blame them at all. After all, why should any student invest time or energy in helping ACT conduct research if it doesn’t impact their scores?
Moral of the story: If you’re approved for extended time on the ACT, consider taking the test in June or July, taking advantage of the current rules.