Updated September 2023
Following what has so far been a successful launch of the digital SAT internationally—and with the domestic rollout less than a year away—ACT has announced it will run a pilot of its own digital testing option in the U.S. this December. As of July 2023, students registering for the ACT have been given the choice to take the ACT either on paper or online.
The December pilot of the computer-based ACT, which will be available for only 5,000 students at a limited number of test centers, is expected to be the first step toward more widespread offerings in 2024. In the meantime, here's what you need to know.
What do we know about the online ACT?
The ACT went digital for international students in 2018, so we are very familiar with the ins and outs of the computer-based version of the exam.
- Like the digital SAT, the digital ACT must be taken at an official test site. However, students cannot use their own devices to take the online ACT—a major difference from the digital SAT, on which students are encouraged to use their own laptops or tablets.
- Whereas the digital SAT is shorter and structured differently than the paper version, the computer-based ACT is simply an onscreen replica of the paper ACT. The content, number of questions, and amount of time per section are exactly the same online and on paper.
- Students taking the online ACT have access to several onscreen tools: a highlighter (to highlight words and phrases while you read), answer eliminator (to cross out answer choices as you narrow down your options), answer masker (to hide the answer choices so you can predict the right answer before getting distracted by traps), line reader (to focus on a single line of text by blocking out surrounding lines), flagging tool (to mark questions for review), and magnifier (to enlarge part of a graph or image). Furthermore, the digital option allows ACT to provide additional features, such as text-to-speech functionality, for students who need accommodations, in addition to supports like color contrast, which will now be available to all test-takers, not just those who apply for accommodations.
- In September 2023, ACT confirmed once again that there are no plans to go fully digital for Saturday testing in the US. The paper version of the exam will continue to be available to students.
How should students prep for the online ACT?
We recommend that students planning to sit for the online ACT prep for the test on a computer, using materials that mimic the format of the actual exam. At ArborBridge, our students have access not only to our digital practice test platform, which mimics the online ACT testing experience, but also our computer-based ACT curriculum, which teaches them how to make the most of the onscreen tools while mastering the content of the exam.
Students testing in 2023 and 2024 will have more options than ever before, so it's a good idea to start exploring those options early. Our experts can help you figure out which test—ACT or SAT, digital or paper—is right for you. Reach out to us here, and we'll help you get started.
Need more individualized advice?
The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.