After a messy launch of its new registration portal, ACT has shut down fall registration until August 3rd, prolonging what has been a frustrating experience for many students across the country.
Here's what went wrong and what happens next.
What went wrong
Monday morning, ACT opened registration for the 2020–2021 testing season—and students immediately ran into problems.
ACT complicated its registration process this year by unveiling a new registration portal. That new portal—combined with a crushing demand of students vying for limited seats—caused widespread issues. In addition to glitches that prevented many students from progressing past the payment page, the website crashed multiple times throughout the day. Several hours later, ACT took down the registration portal entirely, announcing, "Due to high demand, we've taken the MyACT registration page down in order to improve system performance. We're sorry for the inconvenience and will communicate an update at 9:30 a.m. CT Tuesday, July 28."
Tuesday brought nothing but the promise of yet another update the following day—which is when ACT announced its decision to delay reopening the registration portal until August 3rd.
Interestingly, an ACT spokesperson has said of these issues, "Our plan was to notify those who were impacted by sites closing due to COVID-19 this summer, prior to rolling out to the general public. Unfortunately, the soft launch date was shared by some via social media, creating 4x our traditional registration volume and degrading the system performance of our site." It's unclear whether Monday was intended to be a "soft launch" for a select group of students only, and if so, how ACT planned to limit registration volume. After all, the July 27th registration date was openly shared with students both by ACT representatives and ACT's own Twitter account.
What happens next
ACT provided two major updates today:
- Registration will reopen on Monday, August 3rd at 10:00AM CT.
- Rising seniors affected by summer cancellations will receive an email this week with next steps. A message on the ACT website now says, "Class of 2021 seniors who were impacted by summer test date cancellations and closures: We are working to provide an accelerated fall registration experience to help you meet college application and scholarship deadlines."
The latest update may be a positive sign for rising seniors. Originally, ACT did not give registration priority to any students, saying at the time, "Unfortunately, due to system limitations we are currently unable to allow any students priority registration for a future test date."
ACT is also continuing to work to add test centers to further expand fall testing capacity—an important step, given that many students reported test centers already filling up on Monday. In many locations, few test centers were offering the new September and October dates recently added to the fall testing calendar.
If you have not yet been able to successfully register for a fall testing date, keep an eye out for email updates as well as updates posted to ACT's Twitter account.
In the meantime, hang in there and plan to try again next week. You're not facing these challenges and frustrations alone; many students are in the same boat, unfortunately. Your family, counselors, and tutors are here for you and can help you plan for your next test date once you successfully register.
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