ACT to Test Online Option

The ACT test will launch a limited online pilot option for 5,000 learners at select testing centers in December.
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Published on June 2, 2023
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  • The ACT will launch an online testing pilot program later this year.
  • The program will launch in December to 5,000 students, according to a blog post.
  • That online option will take place at select testing centers, according to the post.
  • The ACT hopes to offer students flexibility by offering both online and paper options.

The ACT will debut a limited online test later this year, the exam's CEO announced May 30, paving the way for a digital option for the college entrance exam.

ACT CEO Janet Godwin said in a blog post that an online testing pilot program will be available to 5,000 testers at select testing centers in December 2023. The pilot format allows for "controlled implementation" and feedback in order to hone the program, Godwin wrote, and the test will expand its online capacity in 2024.

The test itself won't change, Godwin wrote, and paper testing will still be available. The pilot program will still take place at physical testing centers.

"Our decision to offer students the choice to take the ACT their way, whether that's online or on paper, means that students have a choice in the testing experience that best suits their unique learning style and preferences," Godwin wrote. "The online option is an important step toward expanding equitable and inclusive testing experiences for all students."

Creating an online option "provides students with more choice, flexibility, and accessibility while maintaining the reliable and valid standards of the ACT test," Godwin wrote.

The online test will also let the ACT expand the test's accessibility by allowing for screen readers, text-to-speech, and answer masking, Godwin wrote.

"Our world is changing, and ACT must change with it. Our commitment to our mission requires that we meet the changing needs and expectations of students and their families, educators, employers, and employees," Godwin wrote.

The ACT isn't the only major test to explore online options in the wake of the pandemic.

The College Board last year announced a digital overhaul of the SAT. American high school students will transition to the digital format by 2024, BestColleges previously reported, cutting back the overall time needed to complete the test from three hours to two hours.

The COVID-19 pandemic saw a growing number of colleges move away from the SAT and ACT as a mandatory admissions requirement, with schools implementing test-optional policies. That move has also crept into statewide policies, with the University of California system in 2021 permanently eschewing standardized testing in admissions requirements.

Whether test-optional policies will become permanent across the board remains unclear, BestColleges previously reported, with advocates of test-optional admissions underscoring their positive effect on diversity and accessibility.

Some schools have since reinstated testing requirements in admissions: Purdue University announced it would reinstate its ACT or SAT requirement for the 2024-2025 academic year, according to BestColleges.