Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

November 6, 2012
ACT scores don’t tell whole story on college readiness

Last week, the Transcript reported that local high school graduates were less ready for college than their counterparts across the state and nation based on ACT test scores.

My response: There’s more to college-readiness than test scores.

An ACT test score is required to apply to any college in the state of Utah. I guess the ACT measures our academic development in four subjects — science, math, reading, and English — and each test is scored on a scale from one to 36. The four test scores are averaged to give a composite score.

The first time I had heard about benchmark scores was when I read the Transcript article. There are benchmark scores for each subject that correspond with a prediction of success in college coursework. The benchmarked score is the minimum ACT score that indicates the student has a 50 percent chance of getting a “B” or higher.

So, as I understand it, to be rated as college-ready in English, a student must score an 18. To be considered college-ready in math, a student must score a 22. A score of 21 on the reading part means a student is college-ready and a score of 24 on science indicates college-readiness.

The average composite score on the ACT in our school district is 18.9. That is a bit lower than the statewide average score of 19.9 and the national average score of 21.1.

According to the Transcript article, only 10 percent of my class scored college-ready in all four areas of the test. That isn’t very many students.

I think there are a lot more college-ready seniors than that statistic leads people to believe, and there is more to being college-ready than just an ACT score.

In addition to scoring well on the ACT, students need to keep good grades from the very beginning because colleges look at your cumulative GPA. My GPA from last term was a wonderful 3.8, but my cumulative GPA is only a 2.9 and that’s because a cumulative GPA is an average from all four years of high school. My sophomore year, I earned a couple B’s and a lot of C’s and it never occurred to me how much it would affect my cumulative GPA or my college applications.

Until recently, I was told that a lot of colleges and universities look at your GPA and your ACT score before they even consider looking at your application. But over the last couple of weeks, I’ve talked to representatives from colleges and, luckily, as it turns out that’s not completely true.

While your ACT score and GPA are still very important, schools are starting to look more at extra-curricular activities and community service. The college representatives told me about how important it is for students to find a balance of keeping good grades, being involved in their schools, serving in their communities and having high enough ACT scores.

So, fellow students, don’t let one test score tell you whether you’re college-ready or not. That’s something you can determine through your own hard work.

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