Stress levels skyrocket. The anxiety meter explodes. It is one of the most dreaded tests in today’s world. It labels people with imprecise numbers. It inaccurately evaluates people.
So many despise this test, but why? The ACT (originally called American College Testing) is a standardized test used by colleges and universities to get a baseline measurement for academic achievement. It is often a major factor in admission to a college or university.
The ACT should not be one of the primary requirements for college admission because it is not a good test of a student’s abilities. Students should not be reduced to a number or score, and they have much more to offer than a standardized test score.
The ACT causes great amounts of stress because it holds so much weight with college admissions. “Some of the tension students feel could be relieved a little bit if they understood more about the schools they are applying to,” Trinity High School college counselor Mr. Matt Manning said. Manning said research should be done before applying to a college to see what the school’s minimums are for GPA and ACT scores.
Ms. Doris Swenson, principal of Holy Spirit School, said, “Some colleges will make students go through a rigorous course in order to be accepted if that student did not make the minimum ACT score.”
For example, a student who does not score well enough on the reading portion of the ACT may be required to go through Kentucky Online Testing in order to reach the college’s minimum score. Many students feel great anxiety prior to and during this test because they know they will inevitably be reduced to a number they may not be satisfied with.
A simple two-digit number does not properly reflect a student’s ability.
“Some good students are bad test takers, particularly under stress, such as when a test may grant or deny college entry; multiple-choice tests don’t reveal much about a student,” according to Jonathan Lash, who wrote “Results of Removing Standardized Test Scores from College Admissions.”
There are so many more areas that are more important than standardized test scores. “There are about 850 test-optional colleges in the U.S., and the trend is growing slowly,” according to Ms. Sarah Sheffer from the Public Broadcasting Service.
Manning said, “We are seeing more and more schools go test optional.”
There are many things that can substitute for standardized tests on college applications, Manning said. The level of classes a student took in high school is the biggest factor. The higher the weighted grade point average, typically the better the student. Students should also get teacher and counselor letters of recommendation.
Extracurricular activities are important as well. They show that a student is driven and can be involved with the community around them while maintaining their GPA.
According to Lash, Hampshire College went test optional and allowed their ACT rankings to go out the window in order to widen the variety of students within their community. Hampshire has concluded it is most definitely a myth that “better” students have higher standardized test scores.
Standardized test scores often don’t reflect a student’s classroom performance. A student may have a 4.0 GPA and get only a 22 on the ACT, a score that likely would be too low for a higher-achievement school.
Hampshire College strongly believes that students have more to offer than ACT or SAT scores. Hampshire chooses to look at “an applicant’s ability to present themselves in essays and interviews,” while reviewing recommendations and assessing “factors such as their community engagement and entrepreneurism.”
— Owen Gilligan