Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

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Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby poochyena » Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:29 am UTC

yea, mostly just a rant and wanting to know what other people think, bleh

i'm 16 and in 10th grade, took the ACT a few months ago, and its the dumbest thing i ever took, your given very very very very little time to answer the questions, all it is is a, "hope u guessed right!" test, it shows no form of intelligence what so ever, it was basically just a recap of what i've learned past few years of school, except your given no time to actually think or re-read any question, and hey, some people are super fast readers and have A+ memory, good for you, i don't, being able to read and remember something fast should mean very very little when it comes to show how smart someone is(yea, i understand you shouldn't take hours to work on something, but you should be given a reasonable amount of time). I wasn't able to finish any part of the test.

just annoys me how people try and say this test proves intelligence, intelligence is based on understanding, as in, say understanding why 3+4*2 = 11, understanding why that is correct is far more important then simply remembering operation order, and the test is more, whats the answer then, why is this the answer... Hope what i said makes sense and isn't some dumb rant x.x

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Dopefish » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:42 am UTC

I've not taken the ACT to have personal experiance with it, but I'm sure plenty of people agree with you.

Even if it doesn't necessarily measure intelligence though, there is certainly utility in the ability to quickly absorb and/or recall information. That utility is likely something many schools/employers are interested in, even if it's not strictly equivalent to intelligence.

Actually measuring intelligence is tricky business, especially if you need to do it on a large scale and in an unbiased way, so I don't really blame them for doing things the way they do.

I'd take comfort in your own assessment of your intelligence, independent of what any particular tests might suggest. I reckon that every one has a much better handle on their own intelligence if they're honest with themselves then any assessment might produce, since even a poor test result could just leave you looking it over and go "bah, those were stupid mistakes!" rather then "Huh? Why is that the answer?!?".

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Proginoskes » Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:37 am UTC

I hear that a tenth ring of Hell is being built for people who write multiple-choice tests. They get to choose their punishment; it's one of:
(a) being burned for eternity,
(b) being boiled for eternity, or
(c) being cut up into pieces and reassembled for eternity.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Puppyclaws » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:17 pm UTC

The ACT is not meant to be a measure of intelligence. It's meant to be a measure of your readiness for college. Skills (or talents) like being a super fast reader and having an awesome memory may make you more prepared for college, which often demands those type of skills.

That said, there are ways to get extra time on the ACT if you can show you have a genuine need. You may want to consider looking into this.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby gorcee » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:44 pm UTC

The ACT tests your ability to sit in a chair for some 3 hours or so and do a bunch of mildly mentally challenging tasks that seemingly have no purpose and bear no interest to you nor any resemblance to things you'll need in the remainder of your post-educational life, all of which bore you to tears.

So, basically it's a good measure of how well you'll endure the first couple years of college.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby rigelan » Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:02 pm UTC

In science - the ACT asks you to examine someone's lab experiment and interpret the results and limitations of that experiment. I find the ACT pretty good in the science section.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Dark Avorian » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:27 pm UTC

Here's the dirty little secret about most of standarized testing and education. Very few and far between are the institutions that genuinely want you to "learn" and "get 'smart'" and keep that as their central guiding tenant. No. What they want is to prepare you for our current work society. The skills they test are skills that will get you through a college experience that will ground you in necessary knowledge but also test your limit for jumping through hoops. And all of that is what the business wants. They want you to be quick, to be able to jump through hoops and work in a set and restrictive environment. Most of them only incidentally care about your ability to be an incredibly profound thinker.
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Apr 07, 2012 2:42 am UTC

Be all that as it may, the point of the SAT and ACT isn't to measure intelligence, but to measure whether you've learned the things in high school that you're expected to have learned in high school.
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Proginoskes » Sat Apr 07, 2012 9:22 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Be all that as it may, the point of the SAT and ACT isn't to measure intelligence, but to measure whether you've learned the things in high school that you're expected to have learned in high school.


... which always reminds me of the opening lines to Paul Simon's "Kodachrome":

"When I think back on all the crap I learned in high school, it's a wonder I can think at all ..."

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby PossibleSloth » Sun Apr 08, 2012 7:04 am UTC

There's definitely some useful stuff on the ACT. Maybe you'll never need Trigonometry again after high school, but writing, grammar, (note the oxford comma :P) and reading comprehension are going to be useful no matter what you do after graduation. I also really like that the ACT has a science section, since God knows we could use some scientific literacy in this country.

I've taught both ACT and SAT classes for Princeton Review, and I really prefer the ACT over the SAT.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby GenovaHeightsGhost » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:24 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Be all that as it may, the point of the SAT and ACT isn't to measure intelligence, but to measure whether you've learned the things in high school that you're expected to have learned in high school.

This is correct: no test, not even an IQ test, can accurately gauge intelligence. However, the SAT, ACT, and similar tests are used to measure aptitude in certain subjects that you have supposedly learned in school. No matter how smart you are, no university is going to want to accept a student that isn't somewhat test literate or has basic knowledge of math, language, or science.

Unfortunately, no matter how smart one is, of that person doesn't have at least decent scores and/or grades, institutes of higher learning have no "objective" measure of your intelligence. Sad fact, but a fact nonetheless.
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Mazer1010 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:43 pm UTC

My opinion on the tests, at least from the point of view of a college admission's officer (I'm not one but I can imagine) is that while people who are smart can do poorly on the ACT or SAT, people who are not smart rarely do well on them. So an admission's officer is just taking the conservative choice by picking people who do better on the tests because even though the tests don't capture ALL the smart people, they generally ONLY catch smart people.

..kind of.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Puppyclaws » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:51 pm UTC

Mazer1010 wrote:My opinion on the tests, at least from the point of view of a college admission's officer (I'm not one but I can imagine) is that while people who are smart can do poorly on the ACT or SAT, people who are not smart rarely do well on them. So an admission's officer is just taking the conservative choice by picking people who do better on the tests because even though the tests don't capture ALL the smart people, they generally ONLY catch smart people.

..kind of.


Another way to think of it is as a test of your high school. There are simply so many schools out there that college admissions types cannot keep track of them all. So, in order to determine whether your 3.8 GPA is equivalent to another student's 3.8, we have this test. And unlike essays, which are untimed and unmonitored, you don't get to have twenty pairs of eyes helping you out to revise and correct it.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby justin.allen.higgins » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:26 pm UTC

Multiple choice, standardized tests, are in essence.... the most horrible thing ever invented since the borrowing of your tools by a neighbor.

The intended outcome (measuring students skills) is never going to near the actual outcome (nothing).

Until we as a culture decide that we should grade people on their skills, ability, and all around awesomeness as an individual. Standardized testing will be the bitter pill that we have to swallow.

I would rather be graded by a monkey. At least then I know what I am dodging.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby darkone238 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:06 pm UTC

justin.allen.higgins wrote:Multiple choice, standardized tests, are in essence.... the most horrible thing ever invented since the borrowing of your tools by a neighbor.

The intended outcome (measuring students skills) is never going to near the actual outcome (nothing).

Until we as a culture decide that we should grade people on their skills, ability, and all around awesomeness as an individual. Standardized testing will be the bitter pill that we have to swallow.

I would rather be graded by a monkey. At least then I know what I am dodging.

You make these claims but you don't back them up with anything. Your grading standards are also rather subjective, at least insofar as you've described them. What would you do instead of a standardized test that is both feasible and objective?

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby pizzazz » Wed May 02, 2012 6:52 am UTC

I much preferred the format to that of the SAT. The ACT was shorter and better organized (no bouncing back and forth between shorter and shorter sections of math/english...). As mentioned above, the science section is good, though probably not something that most people see in high school, unfortunately. Also, all of OP's complaints pretty much apply to SAT as well.

That being said, I don't think timed tests are very useful, but that's another topic altogether.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby gmalivuk » Wed May 02, 2012 1:28 pm UTC

pizzazz wrote:That being said, I don't think timed tests are very useful, but that's another topic altogether.
Why not? Surely if you and I can answer the same questions, but it takes me twice as long, that's a relevant bit of information, isn't it?
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby poochyena » Wed May 02, 2012 11:56 pm UTC

if someone would like to make a thread about timed vs non timed test, that would be good since thats the main issue i had with the ACT

I really don't think how fast you answer a question really matter, its more about how you use your time, as in, if you spend 5 minutes typing random stuff into the calculator trying to figure out the answer, then thats not good, but if you spend 5 minutes writing out the problem and checking it and making sure i got it right and ect. then thats good and shows that you know what your doing.
For non-math stuff, i don't think its to fair to say someone is smarter because they can read a paragraph faster then someone else.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Dopefish » Thu May 03, 2012 12:58 am UTC

Are these tests really saying they measure how smart someone is, or are you just interpreting them as to be designed for that?

I would imagine that test scores are really a function of both intelligence and processing speed, and surely both of those are relevant factors to a potential employer or school. I don't think anyone is saying that a higher score necessarily means someone is smarter (where smartness is defined as the number of questions you could produce the correct answer to if time wasn't a factor), but a higher score than you is an indicator that they may perform better in an environment where both accuracy and speed counts.

Also, even if there are official things somewhere stating that ACT scores reflect how smart you are, they may simply be defining "smart" different then you. By some definitions of "smart", the requirement to be smart isn't just the ability to get the right answer, but the ability to get the right answer efficiently.

For example, you could need to test if a number N is prime, and being an intelligent person you know that that means it has no integer divisors except for 1 and itself. You could then systematicly try to divide N by ever number from 2 to N-1 until you found something that had no remainder, and if you didn't, you'd conclude it's prime. This will work, although it'd be terribly slow. A smarter approach would be to only test numbers up to sqrt(N), rather then all the way up to N. A smarter still way would be to do some number theory magic since there are a variety of primality tests out there. All of these methods will produce the correct answer, but someone opting for the first route is unlikely to be someone I'd want working for me.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby gmalivuk » Thu May 03, 2012 1:28 am UTC

poochyena wrote:i don't think its to fair to say someone is smarter because they can read a paragraph faster then someone else.
No, but it is fair to say someone is a faster reader because they can read a paragraph faster than someone else, and fortunately the ACT isn't meant to be an intelligence test.

(As an ESL teacher, I'm familiar with a number of standardized English fluency tests, all of which are timed. My explanation to the students who complain about this is that if it takes you twice as long to comprehend a reading or listening passage, or to think through and understand the answer options, then you're half as fluent as someone who does it faster. Obviously subjects other than non-native language fluency aren't quite so clearcut, but I think the general point still stands.)
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Jahoclave » Thu May 03, 2012 4:19 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
poochyena wrote:i don't think its to fair to say someone is smarter because they can read a paragraph faster then someone else.
No, but it is fair to say someone is a faster reader because they can read a paragraph faster than someone else, and fortunately the ACT isn't meant to be an intelligence test.

(As an ESL teacher, I'm familiar with a number of standardized English fluency tests, all of which are timed. My explanation to the students who complain about this is that if it takes you twice as long to comprehend a reading or listening passage, or to think through and understand the answer options, then you're half as fluent as someone who does it faster. Obviously subjects other than non-native language fluency aren't quite so clearcut, but I think the general point still stands.)

And, given the data, if you want to do better on the ACT, have richer parents. That's about the only thing it really predicts well; how rich your parents are.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Dark567 » Thu May 03, 2012 10:54 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:And, given the data, if you want to do better on the ACT, have richer parents. That's about the only thing it really predicts well; how rich your parents are.
Do you actually have that data? I would like to see it.(Not that I doubt it, but I would like to compare the correlation)
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Роберт » Fri May 04, 2012 10:16 pm UTC

Meh, my parents weren't rich, and I did well on both the ACT and the SAT. I thought the SAT was more fun. The SAT was half math, and half english/reading comprehension stuff.

The ACT was basically 25% math and 75% reading comprehension. (Edit: by reading comprehension, I mean the English section was generally fairly easy because there would be multiple problems with the "wrong" sections, and if you read much, you would easily notice something was off with them, even if you had know idea what the grammar rules were. And science reasoning seemed very much like reading comprehension to me. Maybe a little math.)

I felt like I had quite a bit of extra time for both, which I used to go back and thoroughly check my answers for the ones I was unsure of. Of course I got a few wrong, but that's to be expected. It's not a very good standardized test if the average person gets them all right.
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby gorcee » Sat May 05, 2012 12:55 am UTC

Роберт wrote:Meh, my parents weren't rich, and I did well on both the ACT and the SAT. I thought the SAT was more fun. The SAT was half math, and half english/reading comprehension stuff.

The ACT was basically 25% math and 75% reading comprehension. (Edit: by reading comprehension, I mean the English section was generally fairly easy because there would be multiple problems with the "wrong" sections, and if you read much, you would easily notice something was off with them, even if you had know idea what the grammar rules were. And science reasoning seemed very much like reading comprehension to me. Maybe a little math.)

I felt like I had quite a bit of extra time for both, which I used to go back and thoroughly check my answers for the ones I was unsure of. Of course I got a few wrong, but that's to be expected. It's not a very good standardized test if the average person gets them all right.


Anecdote =/= data. YMMV. Not that I'm supporting the previous poster's point, either...

Generally speaking, higher scores correlate with better education, and better education correlates with higher wealth. So it's no surprise that higher scores would correlate with higher wealth. That's hardly an indictment of the inherent flaws in the test. Rather, it's a result of systematic imbalance in the social structure. Or, in other words, those data cannot be used to invalidate the test, as the test might prove to be a strong predictor of success given conditions of a more balanced society.

Of course, a balanced society is an unrealistic goal in the present context, so an equally valid argument could be made regarding the need for alternative metrics with better predictive power given the present context.

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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Turiski » Fri May 11, 2012 2:44 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
poochyena wrote:i don't think its to fair to say someone is smarter because they can read a paragraph faster then someone else.
( [snip] My explanation to the students who complain about this is that if it takes you twice as long to comprehend a reading or listening passage, or to think through and understand the answer options, then you're half as fluent as someone who does it faster. Obviously subjects other than non-native language fluency aren't quite so clearcut, but I think the general point still stands.)


In preface, my school was very SAT biased; however, everyone took the ACTs in my year because they gave it free and made it mandatory :/

In particular, I think the ACT science is basically only this. At least in my high school, we were not taught the skills needed to pass that section - namely, being able to skim small-medium amounts of somewhat dense quantitative data and interpret it meaningfully in short blurbs (answers). So most of my friends, myself included, submitted our SAT results because we thought the ACT made us look like we had no experience in the sciences. In retrospect, the admissions boards probably know exactly what a 20-25 on that portion of the test means, but of course we were thinking about how bad it would look to be applying as a science major with such low scores in the "relevant" subject.

I'm not dismissing the skill. I think it's probably more important than most of the science I had learned up until high school. But it isn't probably what the "average" person is thinking the section called "Science" will be testing.
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Mon May 14, 2012 4:55 am UTC

Turiski wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
poochyena wrote:i don't think its to fair to say someone is smarter because they can read a paragraph faster then someone else.
( [snip] My explanation to the students who complain about this is that if it takes you twice as long to comprehend a reading or listening passage, or to think through and understand the answer options, then you're half as fluent as someone who does it faster. Obviously subjects other than non-native language fluency aren't quite so clearcut, but I think the general point still stands.)


In preface, my school was very SAT biased; however, everyone took the ACTs in my year because they gave it free and made it mandatory :/

In particular, I think the ACT science is basically only this. At least in my high school, we were not taught the skills needed to pass that section - namely, being able to skim small-medium amounts of somewhat dense quantitative data and interpret it meaningfully in short blurbs (answers). So most of my friends, myself included, submitted our SAT results because we thought the ACT made us look like we had no experience in the sciences. In retrospect, the admissions boards probably know exactly what a 20-25 on that portion of the test means, but of course we were thinking about how bad it would look to be applying as a science major with such low scores in the "relevant" subject.

I'm not dismissing the skill. I think it's probably more important than most of the science I had learned up until high school. But it isn't probably what the "average" person is thinking the section called "Science" will be testing.

It wasn't so much a science section so much as a reading charts and graphs section, which explains why I kicked arse at it. Personally, I like the ACT more because I got a 34, which was much better (assuming ACT and SAT scores are point-for-point equal, only scaled differently) than my SAT score, even after ignoring the writing section.
From what I've heard, the SAT is the closest thing to an "intelligence test" we have. Some of the data for this is that the SAT is impossible to study for, while the ACT can be. This theoretically inclines me to like the SAT more because I'm lazy and extremely self-confident in academic ability, but it really doesn't matter or affect me since I'm in college. The GRE, however, will be something I care about…
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby gmalivuk » Mon May 14, 2012 4:57 am UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:Some of the data for this is that the SAT is impossible to study for
According to what?
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Re: Am i the only one that thinks the ACT is crap? <.<

Postby Alex-J » Mon May 21, 2012 1:47 pm UTC

I don't think you started this thread for advice, but I will throw in that the more practice tests you do the more used to the format you get and the faster you go. The first time I took an ACT practice test I think I was anywhere between 1 and 5 minutes over on every section: I was freaking out. The next time I took it I made it with reasonable time left on everything. I didn't have time to do more test prep after that, and on the actual test the only section I ran out of time on was science (which made me mad but didn't surprise me). I took too much time on science because I slowly went through looking up numbers and often re-checked them because the only place I made errors on the practice tests was misreading numbers (ex: 1.092 becomes 1.902, which they include as an answer choice just to upset me, I think).
I ended up not answering the last 5 questions (I just barely had time to read the set-up and answer the first question of the last "lab"), I guessed E on all of them in the two seconds I had left (who the ******* guesses E!) and got none of them right, I ended up with a 32 in science (since I got everything else right, probably because I went so slowly, a feat I hadn't managed in practice tests) and a 35 overall. Since I'm going into STEM and going after scholarships I need to retake the ACT (aaaaarg) after doing more practice science sections.

I think the the ACT could be greatly aided by adding 5 minutes or so to each section. The way it is timed now I feel like kids have to take practice tests to do well on it (which is a good idea anyway, but shouldn't be necessary). Anyway if you want a better ACT just buy one of those prep books (or I think they have some tests online) and start practicing those sections. I personally feel the ACT's questions are easier than the SAT's, but the ACT tries to make up for it by giving you less time. Because of this I like the SAT better, as I think it better measures understanding and ability rather than the ability to do things fast (which is important but you only need to be so fast). However, I do like the way the English section is set-up on the ACT better (except for time, as mentioned above)

As far as my opinion on the science section, I don't think it was "science" as much as critical thinking/reasoning. It measures you ability to "understand" and interpret data, which is important to a scientist, but doesn't really measure what you've learned in science class. (with the exception of one of the lab set-ups I took on the real test, for which a few questions required a basic understanding of how recessive and dominant genes work) None of the practice and most of the actual test I took didn't really require that you understood exactly what they were doing or how, you just needed to cross reference data points and subtract things on occasion.

The SAT and ACT are not impossible to study for imho. If you just do practice test you get faster and better at doing them. I think of standardized testing as a necessary evil, it's not the best way to measure performance but it's the best way we have to try to scale everyone. Plus a lot of colleges are just looking for reasonable scores, they don't rank a 1760 much over a 1690, they take it to mean both those kids have reasonable english/reading/math skills and go on to look at other things.

(I also agree with what a poster said above that some smart kids may not do well, but those who do well are almost always smart kids. Which is unfortunate for smart kids who aren't good at the test)


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