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An Update on ACT Testing for the 2020-2021 School Year

As snow and bitter cold blanket much of the country, we are all looking forward to spring. With the change in seasons nearly upon us, school day testing is in bloom, beginning today (February 23) in several states. Spring and summer national testing will follow, with upcoming ACT tests on April 17, June 12, and July 17.

ACT is gearing up for these events by creating as many safe, flexible testing opportunities as possible. More on what we’re doing, what we’ve done, and what’s ahead, below.

Our mission as a nonprofit compels us to create a world where students can discover and fulfill their potential.

Despite very real challenges facing the entire education ecosystem, desire for testing has remained strong throughout the pandemic. Since June 2020, ACT has tested more than 1.2 million students, in safe and socially distant environments. Of those students, more than 120,000 tested at no cost to them, as part of our fee waiver program, a mission-critical program to help more students succeed, no matter their background or circumstances.

Notwithstanding COVID-19, students have spoken. They are seeking test scores for admissions, scholarships, and college and career insights.

To mitigate COVID-related test cancellations, ACT added three national test dates to its fall 2020 national testing schedule, increased school day testing (state and district testing) and unveiled strategically placed pop-up testing sites across the nation to meet customer demand. Where possible, we provided make-up testing for students who were displaced by last-minute cancellations and/or weather-related events.

The Future of Testing

As always, we respect the right of every institution to make the best decision for their students about how and when to use test scores. ACT’s goal is to serve all of our stakeholders with thoughtful and creative solutions. Equity and access are at the heart of all that we do.

The ways in which the test is used are evolving as the needs across the education ecosystem evolve. We’re here to meet the needs of students and institutions. Valid and objective data will be critical for educators to understand the gravity of COVID-19 learning loss.

We’re most concerned with student success, and how the pandemic is affecting students’ overall academic achievement and social and emotional well-being. We’ve conducted research in this area and will continue to shine a light on disparities in educational access, attainment, and mental health, as the pandemic persists. Helping students find their fit and understand their postsecondary options is paramount.

Student demand, as well as our research and that of third-party organizations suggests that students will continue to opt in to testing for years to come. No other college and career readiness measure delivers the kind of objective insights a curriculum-based achievement test like the ACT can.

Remote Proctoring

Though our teams were working to launch a remote proctoring solution this year, we will not be moving forward with this test option in the 2020-21 school year.

ACT CEO Janet Godwin said, “Extensive research, planning, testing and collaboration between team members and partner organizations has laid the groundwork for remote proctoring, but more development time is needed to launch an accessible, secure, and customer-centric option. Identifying equity-minded partners to establish equitable access to remote proctoring is mission-critical. Coupled with the confidence colleges and universities must have in the integrity and security of test scores, as they make decisions that affect students’ futures, we need to take the time to ensure our solution meets the needs of students and institutions.”

ACT Test Enhancements

To create as much testing capacity for students to earn scores from the full ACT test, we postponed our plans to launch superscoring, section retesting and online testing for national test-takers this school year. Stay tuned as we explore timelines to launch these beneficial options to eager test-takers.

Looking Ahead

As each of us continues to adapt and react to all the ways in which COVID-19 has changed our lives, ACT is adapting, too. Assessing student learning, and the role of standardized tests toward that end, will remain important, like a lighthouse in a storm. COVID-19 learning loss, disruptions to the college search and deferral of college plans, among other outgrowths of the pandemic, will be felt for years to come.

The ACT continues to be a critical barometer of student success, used by students, K-12 educators, and higher education at large to determine college and career readiness. How the test is used in the future will likely evolve.

For now, timely, accurate score data helps students make informed decisions. Last Friday, February 19, we began to release scores from the February 6 national test date. Scores will continue to release through the scoring window (until approximately April 2). Learn more at

There are still three opportunities to take the test on a national test date this school year.

Spring National ACT Test Dates

Students can register for the April test date through March 12 (late registration runs March 13-March 26). If cancellations occur between when they register and March 26, students will be able to request a change at no cost to them in MyACT.

We understand the frustration with last-minute cancellations that have occurred this year, and are doing our best to notify affected students as soon as we hear of changes from test centers. As a result, we’re automating some notifications sent to you via email. From now on, students can expect to receive test change notices in real time, as soon as ACT processes the change, when:
  • ACT moves students from a closed or at-capacity test center to an open test center
  • ACT moves students to the “ACT CLOSED TEST CENTER” because there are no open test centers nearby
  • ACT releases scores for students who’ve tested
ACT and our team members have weathered this educational storm alongside students, educators, counselors, and families. We’re not out of the rain, by any means, but as a team, we’re encouraged by each other and fellow education advocates who are fighting for fairness in education, every day. May the warmer months ahead bring hope and joy to our COVID-weary hearts.

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