ACT Test Senior Retake Increases College Opportunities


The ACT Senior Retake opportunity, which offers high school seniors throughout Tennessee the chance to retake the ACT free of charge, will be available again this year during school. Schools will be able to choose from three test dates this fall—Oct. 2, 16 or 30.

All seniors who were enrolled in Tennessee public schools as juniors are automatically registered for the Senior Retake. All students need to do is confirm their school’s test date and show up.

The past two years, about 40 percent of students who participated in the Senior Retake increased their score from their junior test day. Improving scores is important because it can help students increase opportunities for education after high school.

With improving scores, students can earn more scholarships and financial aid. They can also avoid mandatory learning support (“remedial”) classes in college.

There’s no downside to participating in the retake. It’s free, and colleges generally accept a student’s highest score on the test. So even if a student has a lower score on the retake, it won’t count against them.

In October 2017, 74.7 percent of the state’s high school seniors—nearly 52,000 students—participated in the second ACT Senior Retake. The total doubled the number of seniors who chose to participate in the first ACT Senior Retake in the fall of 2016.

Of the seniors who retook the ACT last October, almost 19,000—about 40 percent—increased their overall score, and 2,333 seniors raised their composite score to a 21 or higher. That made them eligible for HOPE Scholarship funds that provide up to $16,000 to help students pay for college in Tennessee. With an ACT score of 21 or higher, students were also eligible for the possibility of additional grant support. Learn more about who is eligible and how to apply for the Hope Scholarship.

In the 2017 ACT retake, more Tennessee students hit the ACT college-readiness benchmarks in each of the four tested subject areas: math, English, science, and reading. Meeting those levels allows students to enroll in college right away and begin earning credit. It also allows them to avoid remedial classes that take additional time and money.

Scores earned from the 2017 ACT Senior Retake saved Tennessee students up to $7.8 million in remedial course costs.

Last year, the state made it easier for public school seniors to retake the ACT by offering this second opportunity during the school day in students’ own schools. These changes remain in place for 2018, with the test offered on one of three Tuesdays in October (2, 16 or 30).

Like last year, school districts can choose the testing date that is best for their students and causes the least disruption for students not taking the exam.

In 2016, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to offer high school seniors a free ACT retake opportunity. The state has a goal for a composite ACT average score of 21 for Tennessee high school seniors by 2020.

As a nationally recognized benchmark assessment for college and career readiness, the ACT has a big impact on opportunities for high school seniors to continue their educations.

Additional Resources

For more information on the ACT retake and answers to frequently asked questions, review the Tennessee ACT Retake Opportunity Implementation Guide.

Learn more about Tennessee’s postsecondary institutions.

Get helpful college prep tips.