ACT Testing


Caylee Caldwell, Opinion Editor

“Deep breaths, it’s just like any other test.”

That is the mantra one Highland student repeats to herself, wrapped in a purple fuzzy blanket at 7:15 am, looking over the room assignments for the 2019 ACT testing.

However, the ACT isn’t like just any other test. ACT is an acronym meaning “American College Test” and is a standardized test to determine a high school graduate’s preparation for college-level work and provide colleges with common data that can be used to compare applicants. It is crucial to universities to judge academic preparedness for college.

It’s understandable that students need to take deep breaths before a test with this much pressure involved. Depending on their college plans, many students often take ACT preparation courses on top of the preparation they get in each of their classes.

Apassiri Phanich, a junior hoping to attend Salt Lake Community College before going to the U of U, SUU, or BYU, took the given prep tests and courses provided through her Highland classes as well as doing her own studying at home.

“Nervous,” was the one word Phanich used to describe her feelings going into the test. “I think the fact that the test is kinda impossible to study for, and also the amount of pressure to do well is overwhelming.”

As students file into their assigned rooms, they are given their personal bubble sheet packets and ACT packets. They are required to use No. 2 pencils only and to bring their own calculators for the math portion. All they can do now is hope they did enough to study.

“I first began using an ACT prep app and took practice tests to find out what I needed to work on,” Sam Metzler, another ACT taking junior, said. Metzler also made flash cards and read the textbook the day before.

The ACT itself is hard to study for as it changes every year. It is a multiple-choice test administered by ACT, Inc. that covers four areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. Each section of the test has its own time limit; at the five-minute warning, proctors suggest students fill in any unanswered questions at random as it is better to guess than not answer at all. There’s almost too much to focus on at once, but the time limit is definitely the most prominent stressor.

“I was mostly thinking about time, it was just stressful,” Phanich said.

Students are given one 15-minute break and one five-minute break, given no extra time if they return late to the classroom.

“[The ACT] is way to long and none of and none of the prep materials made available can really prepare you,” Metzler said.

The test itself runs from 7:45 to around 12:15 and students are allowed to leave after completion, given the rest of the day to nap and maybe finally take a deep breath.

“I was relieved that it was over, but I also never want to do anything like it again,” Phanich said.

Student’s scores are mailed five to six weeks after being sent to the ACT Inc. and retakes are available for a fee afterwards. For most students, scoring above average, 21 or higher, is a good ACT score. For those applying to elite colleges, scores in the 94th percentile (30+) or even the 98th percentile (33+) are required ACT scores.

Highland juniors are happy to be able to breathe again and any sophomores and freshman better be prepared for their turns coming up.