Changes to the ACT and Computer-Based Testing

Posted on 11th July 2018


Nothing is ever simple in the world of standardised testing. After a couple of years of changes to the SAT format and dates, the ACT has now announced that it will be administering the international tests via computer. And as if that wasn’t enough to get students excited, there will also now be tests on Fridays as well as Saturdays, twice a day, and in February!

What is Computer-Based Testing?

From September 2018, the ACT (outside of the US) will have to be taken on computer, except in circumstances where students have special accommodations and can take it on paper. The tests will be exactly the same in format and length, with the only difference being that students will read and answer the questions on screen, and the essay will be typed. There will be scratch paper available for working, and student can still bring in their own calculators.

Where will the ACT computer-based tests be held?

The ACT will be held in schools and in external test centres. The full list of test centres will be available when registration opens on 20 th July 2018. Some schools aren’t certain yet whether they will have the computers available to host tests, but there will be plenty of external tests centres available all over the country.

When will the ACT tests be held?

Perhaps the most exciting change is that rather than just being held on Saturday mornings, students will now be able to take the tests on Friday mornings, Friday afternoons, Saturday mornings, or Saturday afternoons! Not only that, but there will also be a test in February – a welcome addition the calendar. The full list of dates is:

  • Friday 7th and Saturday 8th September 2018
  • Friday 26th and Saturday 27th October 2018
  • Friday 7th and Saturday 8th December 2018
  • Friday 8th and Saturday 9th February 2019
  • Friday 12th and Saturday 13th April 2019
  • Friday 7th and Saturday 8th June 2019

Should I take the SAT instead?

We think students should still choose the test that is right for them based on content. Most students are very familiar with working from screens these days, so it shouldn’t be as scary for students as it is for teachers or parents! Take a look at both tests and consider taking a diagnostic test like this one from UES . Generally speaking your academic profile will determine which test is better for you, dependent particularly on how good your maths is and how fast you can process information. The SAT has more in-depth maths, but the ACT is more time-pressured!

How should I prepare for the Computer-Based ACT?

As with all tests, preparation and practice is the key. There shouldn’t be much change in the way you prepare for the ACT, except that you should bear in mind that you won’t be able to write on the actual questions themselves. We recommend always doing working on separate scrap paper (carefully divided up by question) as you will have to in the test. Using paper tests is fine to start with, but as you get closer to the test date make sure you’re using online tests so you get used to how it feels. You can take an official practice test online here.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you practise as much as possible, and ask for help if you need it!

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