Life is Tough

Within class, our criticisms of the SAT largely revolve on how a single test can control a student’s future while it simultaneously works in contrast to the very curriculum that we are taught. As we have discussed in our weekly classes, the system of standardizing questions to determine a student’s future has many ways to fail. Much of our current school work directs students to think critically and analyze a problem in order to come up with a cohesive answer based on our experiences and teachings. The ACT attempts to simplify this process through creating a single correct answer that everyone, from all sorts of different backgrounds, should always come to when faced with the same problem. Such a concept seems ridiculous, and oftentimes is. 

I completely understand many of the criticisms we have voiced on the standardized testing system. The tests drift from our core curriculum and there is a significant lack of educational support to prepare students for these tests. Combined with the pressure of how a single test score can impact a student’s future over the next four years, this forms somewhat of a nightmare scenario for anyone worrying about improving. 

Despite the flaws of such a system, this lack of assistance and immense pressure works to help students become motivated and find success through their own means, something they will need for all of their future endeavors. As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” Life is tough and unfair, and the ACT system represents one of the first major academic introductions to this fact. Students work on their own, using whatever resources and mentors they can to learn how to improve on the ACT. Guidance counselors and teachers, if one can make connections with those who truly care, provide great insight and help in finding ways to study. These individuals can only do so much, however, as helping students with standardized testing is not what they are being paid to do.

Everyone does not get to make a good score. Colleges, no matter how many there are, cannot accept everyone. The ACT, or any standardized test, may not be a good judge of intelligence or character, but it is the accepted standard for colleges and schools. Does a teacher’s rubric for an essay show top scores for the most moral and mature student? No, it grants top scores to the student who can most ably adapt to and meet the teacher’s expectations. 

I would agree with the great emphasis my high school and college admissions placed upon my ACT score. The effort I gave into improving my performance brought about results that I would not have achieved otherwise. The rewards and recognition from my high school and college were acknowledgements of this effort. However, I must recognize that I come from a position of success, through being able to find the right teachers and resources needed to do well. With the scarcity of such things, I am certain that many of my peers worked just as hard as myself and were not fortunate enough to meet the right teachers in the right place. This system has unfair and deeply harmful flaws, but they are flaws that cannot be fixed simply by switching to another system. A standard of success needs to be set, how else can such a massive population of incoming students be judged and selected? Some who deserve success will be left out, and some who do not work will be let in. Overall, the core of students who are let through to their respective colleges with scholarships and awards will be those who worked hard and taught themselves how to succeed. 


Personal Experience with the ACT

At my high school, many of the students would not go out of their way to take tests like the SAT or ACT because they were not required to graduate. So, my school decided to give every student an opportunity to take the ACT for free during one school day. I had already taken the SAT prior to taking the ACT so I assumed I had a fair idea of what to expect.  However, I was not expecting the time to be so much more constricted than the SAT. Therefore, I personally liked the SAT better because it allowed myself more time to think through my answers in the reading section as well as more time to go over my work in the math section. What I did not like about the SAT, such as the restricted range of intelligence testing were some of the same reasons I did not like about the ACT as well.

I do not think my high school and college could apply my test score from the ACT in an intelligent way because I was not able to show my knowledge or understanding to my capability with the timing constraint. Personally, I did not have any experience with taking either standardized test during the pandemic, nor did I hear anything about how they would be administered or modified.