By Natalie Delcorps
High school brings on a lot of pressures. Some of these pressures include getting good grades, fitting in, and performing well on standardized tests. Looking back as a senior, there are a lot of things I would have told my “freshman year self” to do differently, one of them being preparing better for the ACT.
Back in middle school, I didn’t know much about the ACT. All I knew was it was a test for high schoolers where students would be told they got a certain number, 36 being the best. I had heard about some of my peers taking it, but didn’t think much of it until high school. Little did I know this one test would determine not only what schools I would be accepted into, but also how I perceived myself.
Junior year is when most students start to prepare for standardized tests. Batavia High School suggested taking an ACT class through the school, and I know several of my friends decided to enroll.
“ If I could’ve done it again, I would have taken a online study course to be more prepared,” said senior Ali Shugar. “I took one in middle school because I had to take the SAT for IMSA.”
Once I was a junior, I was constantly being reminded about this upcoming test. I’d be sitting in English one day, and overhear what some of my peers were getting on their practice tests. To prepare, I took the Explore, Plan, PSAT and mock ACT test. In addition to that, I went to several sessions with a tutor to discuss strategies and skills I needed to master. The ACT was turning into a massive burden. Even though I was doing my job preparing, I was not improving on my weaknesses.
My advice to the younger grades would be to make sure you do what’s best for you, whether that is taking extra math, science, or english classes or taking an ACT class to refine your skills. Everyone is different and the better you know what your weaknesses are, the better you will be able to prepare. You may ask, “What if I do horribly on the test?” Have no fear, because you can take the ACT over again – up to 11 more times if you really feel it’s necessary. I took the ACT twice, and my score improved the second time. I suggest taking the ACT a couple of times because you never know if your score will rise.
For Alex DiSerio, the toughest part for him was the time. Some people may get extremely paranoid and plan out the time. Others would get carried away with the questions and forget about the time.
“I thought the ACT was actually more difficult for time restraints,” said Alex DiSerio. “If I could do it again, I would have paced myself better by looking at the clock.”
For me, I had the preparation but when it came to test day, I would freak out. My hands would become sweaty, I’d look at the clock too much, and end up worrying too much to the point that it would vastly affect my performance. If I could do the ACT process all over again, I would have started taking practice tests way before the school ever got involved. Junior year was when we took our first practice ACT and if I could do it over, I would have taken at least a couple more practice tests to get more comfortable with my nerves.
Senior Molly Frederick disagrees with the ACT process, entirely.
“I felt like it was a waste of my time because it didn’t teach me about real life,” said Frederick. “Instead of learning real life skills, I was memorizing facts from an ACT prep book and strategizing how to take a test.”
What many students don’t realize is this test only shows a sliver of who and what they are as a person.
“I don’t think it is as bad as people make it out to be,” said Riley O’Brien.
The ACT is a standardized test to judge how ready you are for college. In my opinion, I agree with Riley O’Brien. The overall ACT test isn’t as bad as you might think, but it is the pressure from school and college that makes it seem like a bigger deal than it actually is. After taking the official ACT, a lot of my friends told me their scores and I would start to compare myself to all of my friends. What I would want to tell my younger self is: This test does not define you. This ACT test is taken out of one day of your life and cannot judge whether or not you will succeed in life.