The ACT Should NOT Be That Important


Cameron Mitchell and Tyla Royston

For years, the American College Test (ACT) has been regarded as one of, if not, the most important determinant of college admission. Students strive for a high score, knowing that it may be what gets them into their dream college. However, it is evident that it should NOT be that important.

Recently, CHS offered the ACT at no cost to juniors. Though beneficial, the test was stressful for most students, especially since senior year is right around the corner.  For those who had never taken the ACT, it was unclear how high they needed to score on it.

In general, a good ACT score is any score that is at least a 24. For many, though, it is understood that a 30 or higher is what makes you competitive at various universities.

For some students, achieving a 30 or above is effortless. As for others, the ACT is nothing but a struggle. Those who struggle invest in expensive tutors and programs, only to find themselves getting a lower score than they had hoped. Or, their scores end up not being enough to make them competitive.

This underscores the unavoidable truth that some students are more apt at test-taking than others. Anna Ivey, the founder of a college and graduating firm, understands first-hand that some students who are “very gifted academically… are just not good standardized test-takers” (U.S. News).

It also needs to be understood that not all schools are equal. A student from an underprivileged schooling situation may not have the same scholastic ability as other students. Notably, not all schools provide ACT preparation to help prepare their students for the test.

In fact, let’s explore this disparity in prep opportunities. Dana Rolander, who is a certified educational planner and founder of her own college consulting firm, has experienced that “students from more underrepresented groups with less privilege have had less access to test prep” (U.S. News). It is this unequal opportunity that is why “it hasn’t been considered an equal playing field for kids from all backgrounds.”

We have not even considered that the mere pressure to excel on the test is intense. Compared to most other tests at this level of education, this particular test places unprecedented stress and worry on students, particularly because it can be the difference between being accepted or rejected to a college.

For those reasons, it should not be weighed so heavily in terms of college admissions. Colleges are already picking up on the diminished importance of this test. For instance, top universities such as Cornell University and University of Chicago have implemented test-optional policies. This provides an easier opportunity for students who have struggled with the ACT to still be accepted into college.

However, the ACT has proven to be beneficial in numerous aspects. Todd Campbell, an ACT prep teacher at Collierville High School, adamantly believes in the importance of the test: “Since the 1960s, it has been the best predictor of how students will perform as freshmen in college.” He also emphasized that students can “earn tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars by scoring well on it.”

Despite how important the ACT is said to be, it is crucial to remember that one test is not what defines a person. Sure, scoring well is certainly a positive result. However, one’s potential is not summed up in 1 three-hour test. Try not to stress yourself out or worry about the ACT (nor any tests for that matter)! You are much more valuable than your scores!