Does the ACT actually measure college readiness?

Ethan Ancell, Staff Writer

The ACT is labeled as a test for colleges that measures “college readiness”. The ACT is a 4 section test that tests your skills in Language Arts, Reading, Math, and Science. There is some debate as to whether this is actually the case. It would be impossible to make any test that does a perfect job, but does the ACT even do a good job?


This test will show how well you can answer questions in a rapid fire, common core type of questions— the sorts of stuff that basically all adults will completely forget by the time they graduate from college. So how on earth does this kind of test determine what college you may get into, which in turn determines the outcome of your entire life? It probably shouldn’t. College classes are much different than just taking tests all day.


One argument is that colleges don’t entirely look at your ACT. More often, your grades are a much more important component of your application to a college. It is commonly said that your grades are like a video of your high school career, and your ACT is a snapshot of your high school career. Proponents of the ACT argue that the test gives insight into different types of information as to what kind of student you are. Perhaps the ACT is universally agreed upon that it is not a good indicator of an entire high school career, but it is an excellent indicator of how well you can take tests, something that you will have to deal a lot with in college.


If you consider all things, we can see that the ACT probably is actually a good indicator of college readiness, because it measures how well you can take a test. It’s not how smart you are, it’s how good you are at taking tests. Since a large portion of your college grades will be based off of taking final exams, the ACT is a good measure of how well you can take an arbitrary test. The only discussion left now is whether testing well in college is a measure of your success in the real world. The short answer— probably not!