What to Know About ACT Section Retesting

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4 min read

High school students who have sat for the ACT test now have a new option to showcase their skills. ACT section retesting allows students who have taken the full ACT exam to select a single section to retake. What this means is that, starting in September 2020, students have the opportunity to retest up to three exam sections in one sitting. This policy change gives students a chance to present potential colleges with test scores that more accurately reflect their skills.

Wondering how ACT section retesting can benefit you? Keep reading to learn all you need to know about ACT section retesting. 

How ACT section retesting works

Beginning in September 2020, students can benefit from the ACT section retesting policy. During your section retake, the portion you’re sitting for will look the same as it does on the full test. It will contain identical content, as well as the same format. As of now, the retesting option is offered on national ACT exam dates, seven times a year—online only. This means that there is no paper and pencil option for section retakes. In addition, there is no limit on how many times a student can retake a specific section. 

Historically, students who didn’t perform well on one or more of the ACT sections—but excelled on the other sections—would have to risk lowering each section score on a full retake. Now, students won’t have to put sections they performed well on in jeopardy. This offers immense benefits to students who wish to present an ACT score that more accurately represents their academic abilities. 

The registration process will be similar to the full ACT registration. Students who wish to sign up for ACT section retesting can visit ACT.org for more information. The cost of section retesting will be announced at a later date.   

What ACT section retesting means for students

Students taking the ACT now have the opportunity to present the best test scores possible to potential schools. Students should note, though, that the opportunity to retake sections means that you should closely examine your timeline when deciding when to sit for the initial, full exam. You may want to factor in time following the full ACT exam to prepare and sit for potential section retakes before you need to send your final scores to schools. 

Many factors can impact how you perform on test day when sitting for the full exam. You can benefit from the ACT section retesting policy if one or more of the following applies to you:

  • You experienced test-day jitters that impacted your exam results on one or more ACT section.
  • You didn’t allow enough prep time for a specific section during your full ACT testing date.
  • You performed well on one or more of the ACT sections and only wish to improve your score on select ones.

If you’re considering retaking one or more of your ACT sections, take time to examine which section you would most benefit from a higher score on, and proceed with registration and test prep accordingly. 


How to prepare for your ACT section retesting

Once you’ve identified which ACT section you’re planning to retake, it’s important to establish a prep plan. First, note how much time you feel is appropriate to allot for prep. Then, plan a testing date that will allow for a prep schedule that isn’t rushed. In order to identify the amount of time you should spend preparing, review areas and concepts you need improvement on, and honestly pinpoint where you struggled on your first exam. 

It can be helpful to take practice tests for that section, since these tests directly mimic the length, timing, and types of questions found on the exam. It can also be beneficial to work with a teacher who specializes in that specific subject who can answer any questions you might have. In addition, an ACT tutor can offer personalized instruction to strengthen your subject-specific skills. 

ACT section retesting offers many benefits for college-bound high school students. Students who wish to improve one or more of their ACT sections can focus specifically on the section at hand when preparing for a retake, and therefore increase the likelihood of a positive outcome.