Why is the ACT Exam losing its Popularity

Why is the ACT Exam losing its popularity

The landscape of college admissions is undergoing a transformation, and one noticeable shift is the diminishing value of the ACT (American College Testing) among students. In this blog, we will explore various aspects, shedding light on why this standardized test is losing its demand among many students and the strategies it can implement to regain its popularity. 

About ACT Exam

The ACT, a standardized admission test for U.S. universities, is also accepted by over 200 universities outside the USA, including the UK and Canada. Administered by the non-profit organization ACT, the exam comprises of:

  • English (45 mins, 75 questions)
  • Mathematics (60 mins, 60 questions)
  • Reading (35 mins, 40 questions)
  • Science (35 mins, 40 questions) 
  • Writing section (40 mins, Optional section). 

The total test duration is 2 hours 55 minutes without writing and 3 hours 35 minutes with writing. Scores range from 1 to 36, with the test introduced in 1959 and conducted seven times in the USA and Canada and 5-7 times in other countries annually. 

Benefits of the ACT Exam

Embarking on the ACT journey opens doors to a multitude of opportunities, guiding students toward a future filled with academic triumphs and personal growth. Let's delve into the diverse uses and benefits of the American College Testing (ACT). 

1. College Admissions: The primary purpose of the ACT is to assess a student's readiness for college. Many colleges and universities in the United States use ACT scores as one of the factors in their admissions process. A higher ACT score can improve student's chances of acceptance into their desired college.
2. Educational Assessment: The ACT provides a standardized measure of a student's academic skills in English, math, reading, and science. This information can be used by admission officers to assess a student's strengths and weaknesses and tailor instruction accordingly.
3. Test Preparation: Taking the ACT can help students develop critical test-taking skills and strategies. The experience of preparing for and taking a standardized test can be beneficial for future academic challenges.

Why ACT Exam’s popularity is declining?

In recent times, the ACT exam, once a cornerstone of college admissions, has experienced a noticeable decline in popularity. This shift prompts a closer examination of the factors contributing to the diminishing appeal of the ACT. The factors behind its waning popularity among students are:

  • New Digital SAT Exam: The new digital format of the SAT exam brings about notable changes, with a concise duration of 2 hours and 14 minutes. This duration is notably shorter than the ACT exam, which is 2 hours and 55 minutes. 
  • Test format and content: The SAT provides more time per question, organizes its reading questions, and allows students to use a formula sheet for the math section, which is preferred by students. 
  • Challenge finding test centers: The decline in the popularity of the ACT exam can be attributed to occasional challenges in finding nearby test centers and mismanagement. 
  • Endorsement and resources: The SAT is endorsed by the College Board, which provides free best-in-class practice and prep and fee waivers for eligible students. 
  • Use of Desmos Calculator: The SAT Math exam allows the use of the Desmos calculator, which sets it apart from the ACT exam. This is a positive aspect as it provides test-takers with a helpful tool for solving math problems more efficiently.
  • Exam difficulty: The ACT exam is often perceived as more challenging compared to the SAT. This perception contributes to the waning popularity of the ACT Exam. 

Regaining Popularity

To boost its popularity, the ACT exam might think about adapting these approaches:

1. Improved Test Center Accessibility: Address the challenges in finding nearby test centers by expanding and optimizing the distribution of test centers. This can be achieved through partnerships with educational institutions and community centers, ensuring accessibility for a broader range of students.
2. Adjustment of Exam Difficulty: Consider revisiting the duration of the ACT exam to make it more competitive with the shorter SAT. If possible, streamline the test without compromising the quality of the assessment to make it more appealing to students.
3. Innovation and Adaptability: Regularly review and update the test format and content to ensure that it remains relevant and reflects the skills students need for college readiness. Consider incorporating innovative question types or technology-based assessments to keep the exam engaging. 


In conclusion, the ACT faces challenges in the evolving landscape of college admissions, leading to a decline in popularity. To regain its appeal, the ACT should prioritize enhanced test center accessibility, potentially adjusting exam duration and embracing innovation in content and format. By addressing these issues, the ACT can position itself as a competitive and relevant choice for students seeking standardized assessments. Adapting to the changing needs of test-takers and educational institutions will be crucial for the ACT's resurgence in the dynamic realm of college admissions. 

You can also read about the Importance of SAT, ACT, and AP Exams for college preparations from here.

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