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

Excellent news for ELL (English Language Learner) students taking the ACT. Starting fall 2017, ELL students will be able to request special supports during the ACT. This is a first—not just for ACT, but also for the entire field of high-stakes standardized testing.

In this post, we’ll discuss the support 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

Importantly, ELL students will take the exact same ACT as everyone else in 2017-2018. The support offered is meant to assist ELL students, not create an easier test. Below are some examples of the supports eligible ELL students will receive:

  • A bilingual glossary
  • Instructions in students’ native languages
  • 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. This way, ELL students from all over the world can take advantage of them.

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. High schools will evaluate which ELL students would benefit the most on a case-by-case basis. Even if a student is found eligible, he or she may not qualify for all the supports.

Are Supports Fair to Other Test Takers?

For test-takers whose first language is English, the first reaction to this news may be to feel that the situation is a bit unfair. After all, who wouldn’t want some extra time to take the ACT? But 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

In the case of ACT supports, life actually 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 (in part due to things like our reliance on idioms, use of irregular verbs, etc.). Think about all the preparation you’ve put (or will put) into 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.


  • 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.

By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!

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

  1. Kassio Toth February 1, 2019 at 6:46 pm #

    Hello, I’m an international student from Brazil. I would like to know if I can receive accommodation for the test?

    I recently read an article from ACT that says the follow:

    Defined by ESSA, the term “English learner,” when used with respect to an individual, means an individual:

    who is aged 3 through 21;
    who is enrolled or preparing to enroll in an elementary school or secondary school;
    who was not born in the United States or whose native language is a language other than English;
    who is a Native American or Alaska Native, or a native resident of the outlying areas; and
    who comes from an environment where a language other than English has had a significant impact on the individual’s level of English language proficiency; or
    o who is migratory, whose native language is a language other than English, and who comes from an environment where a language other than English is dominant; and
    whose difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual–
    the ability to meet the challenging State academic standards;
    the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English; or
    the opportunity to participate fully in society.


    But in other I saw it saying that is just for U.S. students. It’s very confusing for me, I don’t know what’s true.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 4, 2019 at 7:53 pm #

      Hi Kassio!

      Thanks for reaching out to us. 🙂

      In order to qualify for these accommodations, you must supply proof of enrollment at a school located within the US.

      You can read more about the criteria here:

      ACT – English Learner Supports Guide
      ACT – Accommodations

      For the most accurate information, I would contact ACT directly. They should be able to help you out. 🙂

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