Firstly, I do not wish to any credit away from students who excel in the field of standardized test taking. Please do not take this article as an attempt to steal credit from your hard work or level of accomplishment. However, if you actually believe that standardized tests can stand alone in accurately assessing a student’s ability for academic achievement, I urge you to re-evaluate this opinion. For this article I will be analyzing the American College Test, or the ACT. I have come to realize that this “test” is a dishonest device that does not serve the purpose that its company claims, and should be discarded and left in the history books where it belongs.
The ACT is useless. Maybe not in its entirety, but the test is at least useless in regards to its current use. For those not familiar with this test, it is a three hour exam that is composed of four different sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Now, please stop here to think about the structure of this exam, and how terribly it fits the role of a university admittance test. I am a junior business major. I have taken one science class throughout the duration of my time at a university; but my ability to test in science contributed to a fourth of my score for the exam that was used to indicate my potential to succeed in college! The ACT and high school transcripts are essentially the criteria that most universities use to determine the admission status of an incoming freshman. So, four years of state and federally certified high school academic performance carries the same weight as one, three hour, poorly designed exam. I am not suggesting that there shouldn’t be some type of exam taken by students who are looking to be admitted to a school. However, this exam should just be something that is actually indicative of a person’s ability to perform academically. For instance, if someone wants become a writer- test their ability to write! When they decide that they actually desire to become a chemist- test their scientific ability. We understand that every person has individual talents and abilities, so let’s construct a test (or tests) that actually provides some type of realistic indication as to how they will do in their individual field.
In order to begin to grasp why this exam is still used in the modern education system, I believe that it is important to analyze the ACT for what it is; a company. Once someone has done this, it is not very hard to understand the ulterior motives behind this company’s desire to encourage the education system to maintain the academic relevancy of the standardized test, regardless of its actual usefulness. Upon completing a few basic calculations, I have come to the realization that this test, by itself, is worth somewhere around seventy-six million dollars. This figure is solely based off of registration fees. This figure does not include all of the classes or pre-test material that are purchased in order for a student to prepare for this crock of an exam. This figure makes me want to vomit. Now, regardless if this is a non-profit company, it is pretty obvious from this staggering figure that someone is making money (if you are skeptical of this fact, research the ACT board of directors salaries). The moral of the story is this: even if the general public’s opinion on this test aligned with my own, the education system has handcuffed itself into a relationship where the termination of this test would potentially mean the tanking of a multimillion dollar industry that has existed for over 50 years. Does that provide enough justification to continue using this test even though it provides very little indication of the ability of a student?
If we were able to offer high school students exams that were specifically geared towards indicating what industry they would succeed in; think about the good that could do for our country! Doing this would tell gifted students what field they should pursue and would explain to a university the actual ability of the student to excel in the industry in which they are seeking admission. Offering exams with a better ability to indicate which field an individual would succeed in would also place skilled workers into the industry where the skill lies at a more rapid and accurate rate. This is literally a win, win, win. I implore the modern day education system to understand the lack of use of the ACT and to seek to find a better way to determine the ability of its students.