SEALE: Too much emphasis put on stressful, cumbersome ACT

Amanda Seale

Another ACT has come and gone, and Bearden students now heave a collective sigh that they survived its numerous horrors. The rest and relaxation time is, unfortunately, short lived as students begin preparation of the next ACT on Dec. 10. I was one of those unlucky students who endured the ACT this past Saturday. It was my third, and thankfully, last ACT. But even though it was my last time, that horror still remains. “Did I get my score up?” “What if my score dropped – my school doesn’t superscore!” “I need only one more point to receive tons of scholarship money!” These are the cries of Bearden students. The fear is widespread, but completely unnecessary. Why should one test decide our college fates? As students, we’ve been working our tails off for 13 years from kindergarten until now, and it could all just go down the drain because some of us may be not be good test takers. Whereas those that are good test takers but do not exactly have all the brains or work ethic will get a perfect score and full ride to their dream school. Timed test taking is horrible, everyone knows that. Add the stress of “this is deciding my life”, and it’s almost unbearable. English is doable. Seventy five questions in 45 minutes sounds bad, but the questions involve such basic language skills that that section is typically finished with 20 minutes to spare. Math is 60 questions in 60 minutes. That might seem reasonable until you factor in those long problems that take five minutes to figure out. And what about Reading and Science? We get 35 minutes to answer 40 questions. That may not sound bad either, but for reading, you have four different passages, and with science, there are complicated graphs you have to decipher. My scantron on those two sections typically read “C” down the line. And has anyone ever noticed that all the sections’ answers are A, B, C, and D, but with math it’s A, B, C, D and E? Now that is just cruel. Math is not my strong suit and typically my lowest score. So guessing on math, you have even less of a chance of getting the question right, than you would if you guessed on any of the other sections. Why, ACT? Why ? Also, why is science so random and difficult? What do I care how much fertilizer has run off into lakes and the effects it has on the algae or at what degrees and altitudes contrails form at best? Seriously? How do I study for that? Then there’s the writing. Wait, the ACT has a writing section? Oh, you didn’t know? Yeah, neither did I. Why would the ACT have an “optional” section? That’s about as great of an idea as the optional school day we had a few years back. Some students take the ACT, rock it, apply to their schools, then find out, Oh wait … this school requires a writing score. Then they have to take it all over again. And obviously, no one is going to take the writing part if it’s not required by the colleges they’re applying to. It should either be mandatory or not; it’s too aggravating the way it is now. Perhaps the cruelest part of the ACT (and that’s saying a lot) is having to be at school at 7:45 to take the four-hour test. I’m not alive at 7:45 in the morning – how am I supposed to take a future-deciding, dream-crushing test? Saturdays are meant for sleep, catching up on homework, and watching endless amounts of college football. They are NOT for taking tests. But no, the ACT deprives me of all of the above. This grueling process is required to just about any and all high school students that aspire to attend their dream school so desperately. Perhaps the only comfort to ACT test takers is that you are not alone. There are thousands of other students around the country suffering right along with you. From now on, though, I’m happy to say I won’t be one of them.