I vividly remember the Saturday morning in October. Awake, dressed and out the door by 8:30 on a Saturday morning, I was seated in a room full of nervous, drowsy high school students, all waiting to take the test that would decide much of our college fate.
About 4 hours later, I shuffled out of the testing center, my brain completely fried. For better or worse, I had taken the ACT.
While I chose a non-traditional approach to my highschool and college education, I found taking a standardized college prep test to be a valuable part of my educational experience.
1) It validated my high school education
Some question the educational quality of homeschooling through high school. As a soon-to-be homeschool graduate, it was very reassuring to see my test scores. The ACT offered confirmation that my education was rounded and I was prepared to enter college.
I was satisfied with my test scores, and my mom found it was a final “stamp of approval” on the education I received during high school.
2) It helped me discover how well I was prepared for college
My test scores allowed me see I was ready for college level studies. Even though my mom never gave me the answers to tests, or offered me an “easy out,” it was refreshing to successfully face a nationally recognized test.
The exam allowed me to begin my college studies with full confidence that I was equipped to face the academic challenges ahead.
As an Unbound coach, I always found it helpful when a student had taken the SAT or ACT before enrolling in Unbound. Their exam score helped me know how to guide and pace their academic studies. Students with test taking experience had less anxiety when it came time to take their first exam.
3) It provided confidence in my academic strengths
I’ll be honest. I didn’t need to spend hours in a testing center to discover math wasn’t exactly my strongest academic subject. However, my scores fell into the “acceptable” score range for college enrollment, and confirmed that my math skills were at a level where I could tackle college level math.
Also, the test reaffirmed my areas of strengths. This was beneficial as I selected a major. I based my decision on more than a thought process of: “I feel like I’m better at English than math, so I should major in Communications.”
4) It prepared me for taking standardized exams in college
As a college student, I took a large number of exams. From CLEP and DSSTs to midterms and finals, I spent a large portion of my college career in a testing center.
Standardized tests prepared me for my college test taking experiences. Since I was comfortable in a testing environment, and accustomed to the idea of taking multiple choice tests with time restrictions, diving into college level exams wasn’t very difficult.
If you’re debating whether or not to take the SAT or ACT, I would encourage you to do so!
You’ll sacrifice one Saturday morning, but the long term results will be worth it. Of course, you don’t need the test to be a successful student, but the exam can be a helpful gauge as you pursue college studies.
Did you take the SAT or ACT? How do you feel it reflected your college preparation?
Rachel Novotny is a Paleo foodie who’s passionate about helping people achieve their potential. When she’s not writing or adventuring, she’s enjoying home life (and coffee) with her husband and their dogs.Read more by Rachel