ACT cancellation due to COVID-19

If your ACT was canceled, know that you are in good company. Many thousands of would-be April 4th test takers have had their exams rescheduled for June 13th. The folks at the ACT have instituted this policy as part of an international effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

While the many dramatic cancellations and closures may be beneficial for your physical health, they can place a strain on your mental health. The uncertainty can be scary and frustrating, but know that you will get through this—and you’ll be stronger for it. To help you navigate the changes, we’re publishing answers to your most frequently asked questions. Have a question you don’t see here? Tweet it to us, and we’ll answer you!

My exam was canceled. What do I do next? 

First, bookmark this page. We’ll be posting updates about the exam dates, changes to college application requirements, and new resources to help you stay sharp. Next, make a study plan. Remember that you are already ready to take the ACT; the goal is to stay prepared. Once it becomes clear that the June (or another future) exam is happening, then you can pick up the pace and do a couple of practice tests. Continue to practice about 30 minutes per day so you can keep your skills sharp. For your daily practice, choose to study what you need to study, not what you want to study. Random studying can be disastrous. Formalizing a plan of action and dedicating days to specific preparation offer your best opportunity for success.

Set yourself up to study without distractions. No TV, no phone, no social media. (We know, it’s really hard—especially when you’re feeling anxious. You can do this.)

Also, remember that “studying” should entail more than simply running through questions mindlessly. Check your answers, analyze your progress, and determine what you need to change about your approach. Also, you can spend time reviewing notes or watching instructional videos. Think of this extra time as a gift of sorts.

What if the June ACT gets canceled?

Given that we don’t yet know the trajectory of COVID-19, it is certainly possible that the June ACT could get canceled. There is also a July 18th test date, and it’s feasible that the folks at ACT may add other summertime test dates so that students who are unable to take the ACT this spring will have an opportunity before the fall. Remember that every other ACT taker is in the same situation, and arrangements will be made so you can demonstrate your preparedness for college.

How will these cancellations affect the changes to the ACT in fall 2020?

So far, the ACT is still scheduled to be overhauled as of September 2020. (Watch the video below!) Those changes could be great news for students unable to sit for the exam this spring. The three major changes are section retesting, automatic superscoring, and a digital exam option. 

Here’s why all three are beneficial for fall college applicants: 

  • Section retesting allows you to retake individual sections once you’ve sat for the entire exam once. Since you’ll be working within a compressed timeline, you won’t have to re-prep for—and then retake—the entire exam if you’re just aiming to improve a couple of section scores.
  • Superscoring reports all of your highest section scores in calculating your overall composite. Together with section retesting, it allows you to put your best foot (score) forward.
  • The digital exam option allows you to choose between the standard paper-and-pencil test and a computer-based test when you sit for the entire exam. (Subsequent section retests are entirely digital.) This is great news for students who are now faced with lots of virtual learning opportunities. You’ll be in practice!

Know that whatever happens, you will be among an entire cohort of students in the same situation. ACT Inc. knows this; college admission teams know it, as well. You could not have anticipated a global pandemic, and now that we are in the midst of one, you can only do exactly what you’re doing—staying informed, planning for the future, and most importantly, washing your hands. 

How will ACT cancellations affect college application season in the fall?

The short answer is: You’ll be able to find updates on this page and via the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), which is aggregating changes to admission events, deposit dates, and more here.

The longer answer is: This will depend on whether the June ACT administration takes place, whether students will get a chance to take (or retake) the ACT over the summer, and how colleges treat the forthcoming ACT format (and superscoring option) in making admission decisions.

This spring, we’re seeing a growing number of colleges move their Decision Day deadline (and deposit deadline) from May 1 to June 1. Among these are Oregon State University  (the first to announce this change), Augustana College, Northern Arizona University, and Williams College. Should opportunities to complete the requirements of college applications not be available between now and the fall, colleges are very likely either to change those requirements, or to move the deadline to enable students to meet them.

Are you offering resources to help students whose test dates were rescheduled?

Glad you asked! We are indeed offering free resources to help you stay sharp. For starters, join us for our SAT and ACT skills livestream sessions. If you follow us on Instagram or Twitter, you'll find lots of free practice questions—along with explanations.

Finally, we have developed a Bridge study program for our ACT students. If you’re experiencing test anxiety, check out our free resources to help you thrive during these uncertain times.

What about students enrolled in classes at The Princeton Review?

For students enrolled in our in-person classes, we're transitioning to LiveOnline courses (find out more). For LiveOnline students, we'll continue to provide the top-notch, real-time instruction you're accustomed to. Also check out the resources in our ACT Bridge program.

What’s the bottom line?

Remember that this is a global pandemic. Colleges will have to adjust their expectations with students applying for spots in the September 2021 first-year class. Your whole cohort is in the same situation; expect adjustments and allowances to be made. This is an unprecedented event in the modern college admissions environment. No one will be able to predict how the situation will play out, but ACT cancellations will not put you at a disadvantage. We’re all in this together. One final note: Never underestimate the power of handwashing. Take care. We’re rooting for you every step of the way.