ACT: A Catastrophic Time

ACT: A Catastrophic Time

Brittney Giardina, Co-editor-in-chief

Ah, the glorious ACT. Standardized tests, more like standardized fun, right? Wrong. Making a desired ACT score is generally the most stressful part of the college application experience. Though sophomores and juniors regularly join in on the fun, seniors bear the biggest load with college approaching.

In the past, I haven’t been too stressed out about the ACT,” said senior Olivia Oser. “I am usually good at testing and I don’t stress out about them that much. Now, however, I feel the pressure to bring my score up for college admissions.”

Other seniors are also starting to feel the pressure as their inboxes begins to pile up with colleges telling them to Apply Now!! For many, this past Saturday was their third or fourth time trying to get the score they need for admissions and scholarships.

I am taking the ACT again because I am hoping to raise my score by a few points,” said Kristen Charbonnet. “One or two points can make a huge difference for scholarship money.”

Meanwhile, classmate Mallory Maza was looking for an added bump to help with admissions.

“I keep taking to try to get my score higher, especially in math and science,” Maza said. “College applications are due soon, so this is my last time to take it.”

Repeated Saturday morning trips to take the ACT has left many students frustrated by what they perceive as a test that is given a level of importance disproportionate to the amount of information it actually reveals about the test taker.

“As a mostly straight-A student with severe test anxiety, the ACT presents a lot of problems,” said senior Baylee Robertson. “The ACT is extremely general. It doesn’t tell you that I have straight A’s in history or what kinds of awesome academic electives I’m taking.”

Robertson isn’t alone in this. Maison Sauviac, another senior, also feels that the test and test anxiety play a part in hiding her true academic potential.

“I don’t think the test correctly measures up to a person’s intelligence,” said Sauviac. “I mean, I tend to over-stress about it, and I get anxious and then I overthink the questions and it reflects badly on my score.

“I get fairly good grades. Mostly As, very few Bs. But I don’t do very well on standardized testing and I feel like it reflects poorly upon me because people might think, ‘Oh, she is an As and Bs student but yet she does not succeed in testing,’ and then I won’t get in the college of my choice for that very reason.”

So,the burning question: Why do colleges care so much about this 4 hour test? Mount Carmel College Coordinator Kerri Caruso offered some insight into how the ACT plays into the decision-making process at many of the universities MCA students are striving to get into.

“You need to understand that at selective and highly selective universities, admissions offices are looking to build a well-rounded freshman class, not a class of well-rounded people, since many of the applicants look the same on paper and are equally capable of doing the work,” Mrs.Caruso said. “This is the reason folks like me suggest diversification in applications. There are times when the goals of the university outweigh the merits of the student. While I admit this may be perceived as ‘unfair,’ there are over 4,000 colleges and universities and not all are name brand, top tier schools with great programs”


While this may not exactly be what seniors want to hear, there is hope. It turns out that while a stressful four-hour Saturday may leave with students with the perception that a certain ACT score is paramount, that isn’t always the case in the admissions process.

“In most cases, grades and rigor of schedule are the number one things colleges are looking for,” Mrs. Caruso said. “In Louisiana, state colleges are governed in such a way that the test scores are weighed equally when looking at guaranteed admission. However, there is an admissions review process where activities and leadership are taken into consideration should a student fall short in any one of the areas.”


Caruso also mentioned interesting alternatives from the ACT that colleges are taking. For example, applicants to NYU have the option of submitting an ACT score, three AP scores, or three SAT subject test scores. Closer to home, the University of Southern Mississippi requires applicants to submit a score that brings with it no minimum score requirement if the applicant is carrying a 3.2 GPA in Mississippi’s defined college prep courses.

For more information, go to www.fairtest.org, which lists numerous colleges with flexible testing policies.