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OPINION: Unnecessary Evil; How Effective is the ACT?

Brad Griffon

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Every school year students get to face the viral plague known as the ACT. Symptoms of this plague include nausea, stress and obstruction of neurological pathways. The worst part is there are no practical ways to avoid the ACT. It’s something all of us have to suffer through together.

Most of us have found ourselves, at one point or another, asking questions such as, “Is the ACT really that effective at measuring my aptitude?” and “What does the ACT have to say that my GPA doesn’t?”

“I feel misrepresented by the ACT. I don’t like being summed up into a score,” said senior Jonah Yeoman. “It makes me feel like my interests outside of the core subjects don’t matter.”

I’d be willing to bet that this sentiment is shared throughout most students. So, the question is, what exactly does an ACT score say about a student?

“The ACT acts as a snapshot of a student’s capabilities on one particular day out of the year. There are too many factors that can contribute to the outcome a student gets for it to be considered the end all be all measurement of a student’s capabilities,” said Vicki Londer, academic counselor.

It seems like a student’s ACT score is more dependent on the external factors that lead up to the day rather than the information stored in the individual’s head. But that’s okay because that means in order to do well all you have to do is eat, sleep and avoid stress the day before.

One might argue that it’s important to understand the material covered by the four sections of the ACT fully. While that’s a valid point, it’s not exactly practical. It’s more effective to study the way the ACT goes about formatting problems and mentally preparing for them. Learn how to read in between the lines, and you’ll often find hints to the answer inside the questions themselves.

“The environment created around the ACT is unhealthy, most of the strict rules that the ACT enforces seem unnecessary and do little but intimidate students,” Londer said.

It’s almost as if the ACT purposefully makes things hard for us. You would think students would be encouraged to bring drinks, like water and Gatorade, to stay hydrated during their four-hour prison sentence. However, the punishment for hydration in the testing areas is a void.

“Unfortunately, not much can be done to change the way we go about administering the ACT, but it’s up to the teachers to prepare students and to ease them into it so that way the day comes, students aren’t stressed and overwhelmed,” Londer said.

It’s up to us to work around these tight rules and to just get it done. It’s not all that bad though. ACT does provide a break half way between the test. It’s surprising how much water they expect one to drink in this small timeframe.

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