A Pro and Against Duo of Articles on the ACT

Why We Don’t Need the ACT

Students have been taking standardized tests like the ACT since the early 1900s as a method to determine college readiness.  However, the dreaded test is intrinsically flawed and presents an unfair basis for college admissions.  Here are three reasons why we should do away with the ACT…

1. The ACT is Biased

Studies have shown that some groups have an unfair advantage on the ACT. Why is this? The first reason is the ACT’s biased format. The fast-paced test rewards guessing, a risk that some students are statistically more likely to take. Additionally, the ACT is full of biased language.  The test includes idioms which are often not familiar to students whose first language is not English, causing those students to perform poorly on sections of the test that have them. Lastly and most obviously, the ACT is biased against lower income students. Typically, an ACT costs $62.50. While financial aid options are available, there are numerous reasons why students may not be able to receive them. If a student from a higher income family does poorly on the free state-mandated ACT, they have the option of taking it again, raising their chances of getting a good score. Additionally, many ACT sponsored prep programs offer valuable insight, practice, and exposure to the test. However, these programs can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, putting students from low income families at an even further disadvantage. 

2. Test Anxiety

According to a 2013 article from The Washington Post, as many as 20% of students suffer from test anxiety.  According to the American Test Anxieties Association, “High test anxiety reduces working memory, confuses reasoning, increases mistakes, and lowers test scores.”  Therefore, if an intelligent, capable student suffers from test anxiety, their ACT score will not accurately reflect their college readiness.  When reviewing their score, colleges will not know these students’ circumstances, putting them at a disadvantage in the admissions process.

3. One Day Determines the Rest of Your Life  

Second to your GPA, your ACT score might be the most important factor getting you into your dream school. Even if you are a billionaire, you have a limited number of chances to take the test since colleges don’t want to see too many test sittings. Say you didn’t get enough sleep or you’re sick on test day; chances are you won’t perform to the best of your ability. Because of the inevitable occurences of everyday life, colleges should place more value on consistent factors like GPA and extracurriculars rather than a student’s performance on a test.


Many colleges are beginning to turn away from the ACT.  Trailblazers like the University of Arizona and Wake Forest have made standardized tests an optional part of their applications.  Let’s hope more schools follow in their footsteps.  


Good luck to all continuing the college admissions process… may the odds be ever in your favor!


– Claire Reid  



ACT is Good

On February 27th, Memorial juniors took the state-mandated ACT exam. Many envied the freshmen, sophomores, and seniors who had the day off, but the supportive teachers and staff  brought ease to the stressful environment with their great support. Although the ACT is an arduous 3 hour 35 minute test (including the essay) and is probably not the most interesting test one has taken, there are many reasons why the ACT is in place and is ultimately a good test.

  • Good assessment of a student’s college-level skills: The ACT tests students on many skills that are essential to do well in traditional universities, such as critical reading, writing, and analysis. It helps colleges determine whether their school is the right place for an applicant depending on how developed his/her academic skills are, as reflected by his/her scores. Test-taking is commonplace in most traditional four-year universities, so  colleges therefore feel that if a student can show that they have done well on the ACT, they will do well, academically, if they were to attend that particular university.


  • Provides one common criterion: Today’s college applicants are very diverse, with various extracurriculars, GPAs (GPA scales vary from high school to high school, colleges can’t only look at a student’s GPA to assess how well they are doing in school), experiences, and courses taken. By requiring students to take the ACT, colleges are able to use one common criterion to compare applicants. The ACT is a standardized exam, so even if students took the test on different dates, the test measures the same skills with the same number of questions for each skill on every version of test, ultimately making it a fair test for all.
  • Provides personalized information about strengths for education: When score reports are released, students are able to not only see how they did in comparison to all the other test takers, but they are able to see what they did well on and get feedback on areas they can improve. The ACT divides scores into many ranges and has feedback for each particular range. Unless you’re scoring above a 32 on each section, the ACT has  suggestions to help you improve. This information not only gives insight as to how an individual is doing in comparison to their peers on certain college-level skills, but ultimately provides tips on ways to improve scores and strengthen these skills, which is the most important!
  • Not Life or Death: Contrary to most people’s initial beliefs, the ACT is not a life or death test. You can retake the test if you’re unsatisfied with your score, which many people are unaware of. There are multiple ACT test dates offered throughout the year, and although the February 27th date was the free exam administered to all juniors in the state of Wisconsin, paying for an exam and retaking it is always an option. In fact, most people recommend taking the ACT more than once, since most students who do this see improvements in their score.



Most colleges require standardized test scores- ACT, SAT, or both. The ACT is the more popular test in the Midwest, so it is a very important test for those of us who are planning on applying to schools in-state or in other regions of the Midwest. However, it is getting increasingly popular in other regions of the country, so taking it regardless of where you are going can be beneficial and can only help.


The ACT is an important college entrance test that we should all take (and we’re required to take it here in the state of Wisconsin!).There are several valid reasons for taking it and for colleges using it, so I recommend taking it seriously and trying your best! You can always retake the test if you’re not satisfied with your score! 🙂


– Shruti Sathish

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