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Digital ACT December 2023: Everything You Need to Know


This fall, the ACT surprised us all by rolling out a digital exam option for December 2023. With just a few months till exam time, how do you decide if the digital ACT option is right for you?

In this article, we’ll tell you everything we know about the December digital ACT right now, including: 

  • Why the ACT is offering a last-minute digital exam option
  • The timeline of dates and deadlines to the December ACT digital test
  • What to expect from the digital ACT and how this change will affect you
  • How the digital ACT compares to the digital SAT

Let’s get started!




Why Is the ACT Digital Test Being Offered Now? 

A lot has changed with college entrance exams over the past few years. The SAT is transitioning to a fully digital format in spring 2024, and schools around the world are experimenting with digital learning and testing options.

To keep up with these changes, the ACT is making plans to evolve, and a digital ACT testing option is a part of those plans. 

As of now, the ACT digital test set for this December is a pilot. That means that the digital ACT will be offered to a select number of students (5,000, to be exact) at designated testing centers around the U.S. This digital testing pilot is the ACT’s way of testing the waters with the new exam format. They’ll receive feedback on the digital exam, then use that feedback to perfect the digital test before offering it to more students.

And that means that it’s likely that the December ACT digital test is the first step toward a widely offered digital ACT option. We don’t know exactly what the future holds for the ACT, but it’s safe to say that we can prepare for more digital ACT testing options in years to come. 

For now, eligible students planning to take the ACT this December will have a choice. When you go online to register for your exam, you’ll be able to choose between a paper format and a digital format (if you live in an area that’s included in the pilot). Students who take the online ACT will benefit from enhanced accessibility features, including support for screen reader users and text-to-speech functionality. 

At the end of the day, the ACT believes that offering students the ability to choose between paper and digital tests will enable students’ success on the ACT test.  


Timeline to Digital ACT 2023

The digital ACT testing date is approaching fast. If you want to register, you need to have a handle on all the dates and deadlines right now! Below, we walk you through the most important dates and deadlines you need to know to get ready for the digital ACT:


Digital ACT 2023: Dates and Important Information  

If you're thinking about taking the digital ACT in 2023, here are important dates and deadlines you need to keep in mind. 

Important Information
July 2023
Registration for the pilot digital testing program becomes available; 
November 3, 2023
Regular registration deadline
November 17, 2023
Late registration deadline; deadline to switch from “paper” to “digital” ACT format, and vice-versa (note that there is a fee for this)
December 1, 2023
Photo upload and standby deadline
December 9, 2023
Digital ACT Testing Day
December 19, 2023 - February 2, 2024
Score release window


At present, the process of gearing up for the digital ACT is nearly identical to the timeline to taking the paper ACT.  The one important date to note is November 17, 2023, which is the last day to switch your December ACT from paper to digital format or from digital to paper. That gives you the flexibility to go ahead and register for the December ACT now, but make your final decision about which format to choose a couple weeks before the exam!




Change is inevitable. Here's how these ACT changes will affect you!


How Will the Digital ACT Changes Affect You? 

The December exam date comes with a few changes to the ACT test. You already know that digital testing is a different ballgame than paper-and-pencil testing. But other than the format, how will the digital ACT differ from the paper version? And what does this mean for you?

The good news is that the format is the only major difference between the paper and digital ACT. The ACT has made it clear that the digital ACT will have the same length, structure, and content as the paper ACT. It will just be administered on a digital device instead of in a paper booklet. Also, all digital ACT exams will be taken at a testing center. You won’t be able to take the digital ACT from home.

That means that students will need an approved device to take the digital ACT. As of now, testing centers will provide students with digital devices for taking the exam. If you take the digital ACT in December, you’ll be neither required nor allowed to bring your own digital device. As long as you sign up for the computer-based ACT when you register, your testing center will have you covered.

But what about other aspects of the ACT? Will the digital ACT be scored differently? What about using calculators and scratch paper during the exam? Below, we’ll answer all your major questions about the differences between the digital and paper ACT


Digital vs. Paper ACT: What's Changing? 

One obvious difference between the digital and paper ACT is that students take the digital test on a device. But what other changes can students expect? We'll answer your frequently asked questions below. 

Will registration fees for the digital ACT and the paper ACT be the same? 
Yes. Your cost will be the same whether you take the digital or paper ACT. 
Will I be able to register for the digital ACT with a fee waiver? 
Can I use scratch paper on the digital ACT?
Can I bring a calculator to the digital ACT?
Yes. You’ll also have access to a calculator that’s built into the digital testing platform. 
Are there exam prep options for the digital ACT? 
Yes. Digital ACT prep options are available through, and 
Is it possible to request accommodations for the digital ACT?
Yes. You can review the ACT’s accommodation policies here. There will also be accessibility tools built into the digital ACT testing platform. 
Is the admissions ticket policy changing?
No. You’ll still need to bring an acceptable form of identification to your testing center, and the ACT recommends printing and bringing a copy of your admission ticket as well. 


As you can see, most aspects of the digital ACT will be the same as the paper ACT. That’s great news if you choose to register for the digital ACT! In terms of exam content, you’ll be able to prepare exactly as you would for the paper ACT. You’ll just need to spend some time getting familiar with the digital testing environment!


How Does the Digital ACT Compare to the Digital SAT?

For many students, deciding whether to take the SAT or the ACT for college entrance exams is a tough choice. Each exam is designed to stump students and let them show their strengths in different ways. With digital exam options now on the table, it’s a good time to review the differences between the SAT and ACT so you can decide which option is best for you!

Check out the table below to get a handle on the difference between the digital ACT and the digital SAT: 

Comparison Categories
Digital ACT
Digital SAT
Exam content
Will be exactly the same as the paper ACT. 
Will be more direct and concise than the paper SAT. 
Exam length
Will be the same length as the paper ACT. 
Will be around an hour shorter than the paper SAT and the ACT. 
Exam structure
Will consist of four sections and 215 questions, like the paper ACT.  
Will replace the paper SAT’s four sections with two sections made up of two modules each. Will reduce the paper SAT’s 154 total questions to 98 total questions. 
Is the digital exam format optional? 
Yes. At present, students may choose either the digital or paper ACT format. 
No. Starting in Spring 2024, all students must take the SAT digitally. There is no paper exam option. 
Will students be able to use their own digital devices on the digital exam? 
No. Digital devices will be provided by designated testing centers.  
Yes. As long as it is approved by the College Board, students will be able to test on their own digital devices. 
Will scoring be the same? 
Yes. Digital ACT exams will be evaluated using a 36-point scale, like the paper ACT. 
Yes. The digital SAT will be evaluated using a 1600-point scale, like the paper SAT.  
Will the digital exam use adaptive testing? 
No. The digital ACT will not use adaptive testing. Each student’s exam will be predetermined before they receive it. 
Yes. The digital SAT adapts each student’s exam based on their performance on earlier sections. Learn more about adaptive testing for the digital SAT here


As you can see from the table above, the digital ACT will not be very different from the paper ACT, whereas the digital SAT differs from the paper SAT in terms of length, structure, and content. 
Now that you know the key differences between the digital ACT, paper ACT, and the new digital SAT, you’re set up to choose the exam that’s right for you!

And once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready for the next step in the process: exam prep. PrepScholar’s Complete Online ACT Prep guarantees 4+ point improvement by customizing your prep routine to suit your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll get all the tools you need to ace the ACT…whether you’re taking it online or on paper.




What's Next

If you're planning to take a digital test, it's a good idea to get used to answering questions digitally. These online ACT practice tests and questions can help you get accustomed to a new testing format.

Even on digital tests, having solid test-taking strategies in your back pocket can help you improve your score. Here are our top 18 ACT tips that can give your cumulative score the boost you need.

If there's a specific ACT section that's giving you trouble, be sure to check out our section-specific ACT guides. For instance, this walkthrough can help you earn a perfect 36 on the ACT math section, and this article will give you expert strategies that'll give you an edge on the ACT english portion of the exam. 


Want to improve your ACT score by 4+ points? Download our free guide to the top 5 strategies you need in your prep to improve your ACT score dramatically.

Raise Your ACT Score by 4 Points (Free Download)


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Ashley Robinson
About the Author

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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