Opinion editorials, reviews and personal essays
By Kenneth Shu
The ACTs—the painful speed trial of questions upon questions—just occurred last week. Its brief 4 hours was the culmination of months of hard work, weeks of classes, and hours of nonstop stress eating.
So what is it exactly?
For those of you who don’t know what the ACT is, though I highly doubt that is the case, then here’s a short introduction. In terms of standardized, it’s the easier version of the SATs but with much less time, so there’s a greater emphasis on quick thinking versus robust understanding. The test has 4 main sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. Each section has its own set of questions and timeframe, tailored accordingly to demonstrate a degree of rigor and to make your life very miserable. However, the ACT is much easier than its SAT counterpart, but it requires the participant to work much faster than otherwise, leaving barely a margin for error. So if you make a careless mistake, or spend an extra minute longer on that one question, then there is a much higher chance of you messing up or not finishing the section entirely.
As such, it can still be a very stressful event for its participants.
As previously stated, the ACTs is a fast paced event. In just roughly 3 hours, discounting the writing section, the test takers are expected to answer a combined total of 215 questions: 75 from the English section, 60 from Math, and 40 each from Reading and Science. The participants are expected to answer these questions continuously and quickly if they expect to finish the sections on time, creating a messy scenario of burned hands, smudged papers, and exhausted minds. This, in addition, was done so with barely a break between the four sections, which further complicated the situation. As stated by Jessica Wu, a fellow test taker exasperated and made near-deceased by the test:
“They should give us breaks between each section, not just in the middle, like I was not prepared to go from reading to science.”
Yet this exam is only a one-time thing. The ACT, or any standardized test for the matter, is much like a marathon. You prepare for it, you take it, and you finish it in relief and ecstasy and vow to never do it ever again. That is, of course, assuming that you don’t mess up the first time around. Otherwise this cycle repeats itself and its back to the classes, mocks, and looks of disapproval.
For the many SAS students who took the test last week, the hard part is over, but the anxiety just began. Between now and the next few weeks, computers and supervisors would tirelessly comb through the many thousands of digitized answer documents. Analyzing each smudge filled blot, grading each essay, and mercilessly ruining anybody who didn’t use a 2B pencil. They would be determining each test taker’s score, and hence, their academic future. All bets now lay open, as each participant waits for their fearful score. Pondering their ticket to success, or their ticket back to the cycle of misery.