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Thomas Broderick

ACT to Offer Accommodations for English Language Learners Starting in 2017!

Magooshers, I have just heard big news that applies to ELL (English Language Learner) students taking the ACT, starting with the 2017-2018 school year!

In the smallest of nutshells, starting fall 2017, ELL students will be eligible to request special supports during the ACT. This is a first not just for ACT, but the entire field of high-stakes standardized testing.

In this article, I’ll discuss the supports some ELL students will receive starting fall 2017, how the qualification process works, and the reasoning behind ACT’s big decision. So if you’re ready, let’s get started.

Supports for ELL Students

The first big thing to note is that ELL students will take the exact same ACT as everyone else in 2017-2018. The supports are meant to assist ELL students, not make the test easier. Below are the supports eligible ELL students will receive:

  • A bilingual glossary
  • Instructions in students’ native language
  • Testing in a separate room (with a small group or by yourself)
  • Additional time

More Big News! The first two supports will be available in many languages other than Spanish. This way ELL students from all over the world can take advantage of the supports.

Who is Eligible for Supports?

Just because a student’s first language isn’t English doesn’t mean that he or she automatically qualifies for supports. On a case by case basis, schools will evaluate which ELL students would benefit the most. Even if a student is found eligible, he or she may not qualify for all the supports.

Are Supports Fair to Other Test Takers?

If your first language is English, it’s okay if your first reaction to this news is to feel that the situation is a bit unfair. After all, who wouldn’t want some extra time to take the ACT? Yet you need to keep in mind what the ACT is designed to measure: your potential as a college student.


Attention ELL Students Taking the ACT in 2017-2018! -Magoosh

But in the case of ACT supports, life is fair.


There are many bright ELL students who are held back only by the fact they haven’t lived in the United States very long. And remember, too, that English is one of the hardest languages to master. Think about all the difficultly you’re having getting ready for the ACT English Test, for example. Then multiply that difficulty by 10. You see where I’m going with this? The new supports for ELL students will only level the playing field.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an ELL student planning to take the ACT in 2017-2018, be sure to ask your school’s guidance counselor if ACT supports are right for you.

Till next time, Magooshers.

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About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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