College Counseling Office Shifts Approach on Practice ACT for Sophomores to Prioritize Student Well-Being


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Standardized tests are a rite of passage for students, but they come with stress.

Historically, the College Counseling Office (CCO) has offered the practice ACT for sophomores and SAT exams for juniors to familiarize them with both tests. However, the practice ACT was discontinued for sophomores this year in an attempt to reduce unnecessary stress caused by the exam.

“Much of the math that is on the ACT is learned in the sophomore year, so students were scoring low on math and feeling really deflated,” Director of College Counseling Alexandra Fields said. “It wasn’t a particularly good indicator of how a student would score on math once they actually studied it.”

The CCO also encountered the issue of accommodations and how to provide those for a standardized test early on.

“It was too early in a student’s high school career to know if they would qualify for accommodations through ACT,” Ms. Fields said. “All students were taking the practice ACT [with] standard time, which did not at all reflect a real test.”

Taking a test with potentially the wrong accommodations and resources would not be helpful for students, at least through the eyes of the CCO.

However, there is controversy among the sophomore class about whether the test would have been beneficial. One concern students have is their ability to choose between the two tests when it’s the time to do so.

“I kind of wish we did have to take it, because it gives you an idea of what you are going to have to do,” sophomore Catarina Santana said. “Taking the practice ACT would have helped me decide which test I was going to take, because I am starting test prep later this month.”

Additionally, some older students were bothered by the CCO’s removing the practice ACT because they found it unfair that they had been forced to take the test.

“I feel like they need to take it because it is a rite of passage for every sophomore,” senior Micah Oommen said. “It seems unfair we had to go through that, but they don’t.”

The test also took a toll on some students. “I was absolutely exhausted, and so were my friends,” Micah said. “I was also too focused on getting those scores back. I did not, unfortunately, get the score that I wanted, so it definitely was a hard experience for me.”

Other students agreed with the CCO, concluding the test was not beneficial. “I needed to take a self-proctored PACT to determine which [test] I was better at, so it really didn’t have much of an effect on me,” junior Allison Marlas said.

Although some students feel negatively about the test’s removal, it is not entirely gone. “While the entire sophomore class will no longer sit for a test on PSAT day, students are still able to sit through practice ACTs or SATs if they would like,” Ms. Fields said.

However, the ultimate decision to remove the test was due to the effect it had on students.

Ms. Fields said, “All of this was creating unnecessary stress for students, so we decided to move away from it.”