ACT test-optional policies spark conversation

By J1 Reporter Maddia Groff

“You are more than a test score.” This is a phrase girls have heard repeatedly from various teachers during their time at Marian. However, a test score, in the form of the ACT, determines a great deal of a high schooler’s future including the college they are able to attend and scholarships they are able to receive.

While a few colleges and universities have made the ACT test-optional prior to COVID-19, the majority have resorted to a test-optional policy during the outbreak. Since then, various debates have arisen on implementing a permanent test-optional system moving forward.

Social Studies teacher Mrs. Amy McLeay points out the necessity of having standardized testing and the ACT “to level the playing field,” but also voices her views on its fallacy. 

“In terms of measuring their intelligence, I think that the GPA and everyday habits that they show in the classroom are probably a better indicator,” McLeay said.

Illustration by Hannah Cusick

Guidance counselor Mrs. Kathy DeWispelare shares similar views with McLeay and said, “A test score is only one day of your life. Your classroom performance, work ethic, and dedication are much more indicative of what you are capable of rather than your abilities on one particular day.” 

Additionally, she said she believes that the policies for colleges moving forward regarding the ACT are “going to vary, and each school will handle the situation in the best way that serves them and their student population.” 

Because requirements for the ACT wavered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DeWispelare also states, “It is going to take a little bit of time for each college to find their new normal post pandemic.” 

Therefore, it cannot be clearly determined whether the ACT test-optional policies will become widespread long term or not.

Regardless, it is indisputable that the ACT challenges students to process a lot of information in a short amount of time and is the basis for many college scholarships. While it can sometimes be a heavy burden, it forces students to deal with stress and, hopefully, truly process that they are more than a test score.

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