ACT college test will go digital

WASHINGTON — Goodbye, No. 2 pencils. Hello, iPads­. As early as spring 2015, the ACT college admissions exam will go digital, reflecting the demand for quick results.

The tests will still have multiple-choice options for college hopefuls but will include interactive portions, such as a simulated science lab for students to conduct experiments or space for students to explain concepts in their own words.

‘‘The days of paper-and-pencil admission testing are changing,’’ said Jon Erickson, president of ACT’s education division. The company will shift to iPads and computers.


Several states already use computers for statewide tests, and ACT works with 22 of them. But testing in Kentucky was suspended last week after ACT officials discovered glitches. Problems with other vendors forced Indiana, Minnesota, and Oklahoma to delay their testing. In part, that is why ACT is not rushing to start online offerings.

Get Ground Game in your inbox:
Daily updates and analysis on national politics from James Pindell.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

And the traditional, 215-question fill-in-the-bubble tests will still be available for those who prefer the pencil.

The tests will still have sections to measure students’ English, math, reading, and science understanding, as well as an optional writing section. The dominant entrance test used in Massachusetts, the SAT, will still be administered with pencil and paper.