One of the most fundamental facts of high school is something that is not truly connected to high school in the first place: the ACT. Basically all students must take, and do well on this exam in order to get into, or at least be able to afford college. It’s a fundamental fact for everyone that, for an entire Saturday morning, they will have to sit in a room and take a test that is supposedly meant to test your college readiness, so colleges can choose the best candidates to fill their finite space. Yet, this test fails to do so. It does not properly test a student’s ability to perform in college, but instead simply tests the ability of a student to perform well on tests through numerous test taking strategies.
The failure of the ACT to test college readiness stems mostly from the restrictive time limits. If the test were meant to properly ascertain a student’s level of education, then there should be no time limits so students can, with a minimal amount of stress, discern the answer to each question. What the time limit does is create an air of urgency surrounding each section, which only encourages mistakes, or oftentimes leaves questions unanswered by students. Forty minutes is not enough time to read five passages, and answer 40 questions about them, especially without generating undue stress. An hour or less is not enough time to work out 45 math questions, especially at the level of math that is supposed to be being tested.
All of this means that students, instead of trying to learn the information they will be tested on properly, just learn test taking strategies. No bubbles are left blank, even if a student knows they do not know the answer to that question. Answers to questions are eliminated in lieu of simply knowing the answer to them.
The information students are being tested on is too far reaching, and under too small a time constraint for them to take the test based on their actual knowledge, and the stakes are too high. If there is going to be a test determining a student’s college readiness, it should be one actually designed to test a student’s level of education, not what skills they have acquired in the previous 16 or 18 years for test taking.
Finally, this test does not test college readiness because the major focus is STEM, or is overly broad. While this test can do well to determine whether someone should be admitted to a math, science, or English degree. Anything else is basically omitted, because it is not tested at all. The level of math, or science knowledge required for a degree in the humanities, like history or political science, would be nowhere near what the ACT is expecting students to be able to perform at. The same goes for a whole plethora of other degrees. In lieu of the ACT, there should be tests targeted to specific areas, like science, or the humanities, or linguistics in lieu of the generic test that its makers claim tests a student’s college readiness.
In lieu of the ACT new tests should be implemented, without time limits, which focus more deeply on each individual field a student intends to enter to actually test how well they can perform in the degree program they wish to pursue. The most important thing, though is that the ACT must be abolished.