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ACT: Benefits and Disadvantages

As the seniors, and soon juniors, are knee-deep in college applications and scrambling to achieve their desired standardized testing scores, I would like to take a moment to share my thoughts on the process of applying to college, particularly the ACT. This is something that I have tackled over the past couple of months to try and ensure my admission to my top choices.

There is no simpler way to put it: the ACT is a game. You are not only competing against thousands of other student nationwide, but you are racing the clock. It requires strategy and practice to succeed, so you probably won’t be able to get away with just relying on luck.

Not to put a damper of the mood, but as most of us know, if we want to go to college, the ACT is unavoidable. We have to accept that while a perfect score is obviously what we all want, we need to be realistic. If you go into the test with a mindset where you are afraid to make a mistake, you might end up spending too much time a question and essentially throwing away valuable time that you needed for another question.

Some people may ask themselves, “Why is the ACT administered when it seems like few people reap in the rewards?” or “How is this fair for people who excel in school, but struggle with tests?”. These are just some of the controversial questions that have been raised regarding the ACT, but unfortunately there are no satisfying answers.

Some people want the ACT abolished, as they say that it is an inaccurate measurement of intelligence, ability, and potential. Colleges should not base the majority of acceptance on the ACT score, as other things like grades earned in high school and taking challenging classes should be taken into consideration more than one composite score. A résumé, transcript, and letters of recommendation can tell a more comprehensive story than an ACT score can.

On the other hand, the ACT IS beneficial because it sets a benchmark, or standard, for college readiness. Most colleges have a minimum score that you must attain in order to be accepted, and for most public universities, this is usually not over a 20. For those people who excel at standardized testing, it can be helpful as merit based scholarships are often given out to high scorers.

I see the both benefits and disadvantages of taking the ACT, but I have come to accept that right now, it is just a part of life and the college admissions process. There are ways to “beat the test” and raise your score, but some of these options can be costly. If it is not an option to take a review class, the internet and YouTube have some tips and strategies, but the best option would be to buy a practice book and take practice tests.

I do not see standardized being abolished in the near future, so we as students need to make every effort we can to show our abilities through the test. Although colleges do highly consider your ACT score, participating in extracurriculars and maintaining your grades are still of the utmost importance.

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