Coaching from “ACT Prep” and the ACT

While I do not necessarily view the ACT itself as an accurate representation of the knowledge or abilities of all students, I would consider my personal overall experience with the ACT to be a positive one. I was pleased with my ACT score, and (for the most part) finished the test within the time limits provided. I took the ACT three separate times, and my score was nearly the same all three times, so I do feel that the test does have high reliability, which is similar to a point mentioned in our discussions of the SAT.

However, I believe that an individual’s score can change drastically using the right measures, which brings up a potential criticism of the ACT, much like a major criticism present in our discussions about the SAT—the coachability of the test. When I was in high school, students were offered a course called “ACT Prep.” This was not a course that covered content within the subjects in the ACT (English, reading, math, and science) but rather a course meant to teach the best strategies for taking the ACT. This raises the question, “If the test is coachable, then is it actually testing student ability or knowledge?” In my opinion, the answer is no; achieving ‘success’ on the test largely relies on students’ awareness of the appropriate ACT test-taking strategies, compromising the test’s original purpose.

Therefore, in spite of my own positive experiences with the ACT and in spite of the fact that my ACT scores did benefit me as I entered college, I cannot confidently say that my ACT score was used by my high school and the colleges I applied to in an intelligent way. There is so much pressure for modern students to do well on the ACT, and it continues to carry much weight in the college application process, regardless of the criticisms that its coachability brings into question. Because “ACT Prep” was not a required high school course, not all students learned the strategies covered within it and, as a result, many were likely at a disadvantage when it came down to awareness of ‘the best ways’ in which to take the test.

Ultimately, when added to the fact that some very intelligent students are not strong test takers, especially on such a pressured test as the ACT, disadvantages due to coachability of the test lead me to believe that ACT scores are not an accurate representation of student ability.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *