Earlier in the semester, I said that “beyond the single oddity of the ACT, the standardized test has been unknown to me, and its absence has not hurt me.” I now realize that this is not necessarily true. The ACT has allowed me to pursue my homeschool education. I now know that I had misunderstood the objective of the standardized test. It is not an educational/teaching tool, nor should it be treated as such. It is a measurement tool. In the case of the ACT, it is a gauge of academic ability.
I have had a change of heart. Without a standardized test like the ACT, my self-reported homeschool GPA would have been laughed out of the college admissions office. Instead, I can take a test that measures my academic learning and categorizes me based on a national standard. In essence, my parents were able to pursue a less traditional and more experimental form of education for myself without being penalized for the lack of credibility associated with it.
Furthermore, not all schools are created equal. Some high schools are more academically rigorous than others which explains why a kid with a 4.0 GPA may get an 18 on his/her ACT whereas another kid with a 3.0 GPA at a different high school may get a 25 on the ACT. A standardized test like the ACT accounts for the difference in pedagogical approaches and the intensity of an institution’s curriculum. From this angle, I now see the ACT as an equalizer among schools and educational philosophies.
However, the Act still has its issues. I still question the accuracy of the ACT. In my own experience, the ACT is an easily coachable test. For a test that is supposed to measure one’s entire academic learning, I was able to boost my initial grade of 18 to 28 within a short period after taking an ACT prep course. Furthermore, socioeconomic status also comes into play regarding access to learning resources, such as a prep class or prep materials. Regardless, I have a new appreciation for the ACT. I now applaud the standardized nature of the ACT and the ability the test provides for individuals to venture outside the conventional realm of education.