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ACT and college

  1. Apr 18, 2015 #1
    So I am only a sophomore but I feel that i have my mind set on going to college and embarking on a phd in physics. As of now I seem to go by school quite easily with a 4.0 and I don't even study (I go to a pretty nice private school) . Not like that's something I should really be bragging about just giving you the idea. I study at home often and am taking math and physics courses at home. Now here is the catch, I am a rather slow worker and like to pace myself in everything I do. I'm not super slow but I am usually in the last group of people and things like that when it comes to taking a test. To tie this all together, after taking the act I found that the material was quite easy to understand, and if I had the time to complete it I would have gotten a good score. That didn't go as planned as when I was on the 2nd portion of the test I found nothing but time going against me. When she called 1 minute I was only half way through the reading portion and had to completely guess for the remaining questions. That is not the only problem, I always took interest in math and science but the math on there was either something i never learned or something that we only covered in one day a while ago in pre-algebra to show us what we will learn in the future and never did, the rest of it I got quite easily. The science was given as a couple paragraphs and a couple data charts that we had to find the answers of the questions in. Due to the time I was unable to read any of it so I just had to assume the answers but none of it was knowledge of science it just felt like another reading portion. From what I had to do on the math practice test I thought that English was going to be the only thing I struggled with but I found it to be the easiest and the only one that i legitimately finished in time (still in a rush). I also did the writing which seemed to be the other part of the test that was fair to me. I took too much time thinking on it and was unable to complete my essay, but if I were to take it again I wouldn't have a problem completing it. I know it might seem a little early to be so worried about getting a bad score and everyone is telling me that I probably did better than I think I did but I'm just kind of freaking out now because I feel that the best score I can get out of that monster that i just turned in is like a 22 (AT BEST).

    tldr: So my question is, will I still be able to get into a good college and live my dream or will I just have to give up on it because I can't get a good score on a test that was just not built for me. Also if I am just over reacting about how much the act matters will I be able to survive in college? is it all as fast paced as the act?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2015 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Your point is that you don't study and you run out of time on timed tests? Seems like there's a potential solution looking you in the eye.
  4. Apr 18, 2015 #3
    The first problem to solve is figuring out what takes you so long and how to speed up your performance. Maybe you don't know the material as well as you think. You will not have unlimited time on exams as a college student, either. I can tell you that the more prepared I was for exams in college, the quicker I was able to complete them.

    In the grand scheme of your academic career, the ACT doesn't mean much. I took it about 20 years ago, and I don't remember much about it at all, including my score. However, it is a part of the college admissions process, so you should take it serious enough to get an acceptable score. Just remember that it is only a part of the process.
  5. Apr 18, 2015 #4
    I studied so much its just the material that I was told that would be on the act was on there but there was more than just that. Running out of time isn't just something I can fix. I take pride in thinking out problems to a much fuller extent. I have practiced on increasing my time and it's just not how I function. If you read the entire post you would see that I wasn't asking for a solution to the test, I was asking how much of an impact, if my expectancy is met, will this have on my future
  6. Apr 18, 2015 #5
    Most tests in college are timed so you have to know your material well to work through the problems quickly to finish in time. It might not be fair but it is the way it is, so you should look to fix your weakness.
  7. Apr 18, 2015 #6
    Thank you for the response. As my speed is increased the quality of my work decreases, I'm not stupid or anything I'm not quite sure how to explain it. Believe me I know I studied the materials as much as possible like I was slaving trying to learn so much depth to just the English portion. When it comes to testing over taught material I am much better, its not that i cant do critical thinking its just I'm given a lack of time and questions that I was never warned about pop out of nowhere. I feel that the college tests will give me much more time than the ACT will. Also believe me when I tell you I take the test super seriously i put in lots of hours trying to study it and almost through up because I was so concerned of the consequences if i were to do poorly on it. Also note that I tried different methods on using my time throughout the test. Again thank you for the reply.
    Edit: i forgot to mention that i take online courses at Yale and i find that I am capable of completing the test on time.
  8. Apr 18, 2015 #7
    I do much better if I am actually told what will be on the test, also in college I'm pretty sure i would have much more time to finish the tests, I take online courses at Yale and the tests there seem possible to my standards.
  9. Apr 18, 2015 #8
    Sorry to everyone if I am sounding stubborn just my perspective, also note that I will be taking the test multiple times to try and better my score.
  10. Apr 19, 2015 #9


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    Some people are deep thinkers and slow to get answers, but their answers are better. If you're one of them you'll always have trouble with tests that involve speed. Play to your strengths. There are lots of schools that don't require ACT or SAT results as part of their applications. At Caltech, many of the exams are take home, infinite time. These things exist, but you have to be savvy and know what to look for. So look around and try to put yourself in a situation where you can shine.

    Usually there will be something along the way that you don't do well, but in real life it's all about knowing what you're doing and getting it right. There are always real time constraints, but not artificial ones like on the ACT. If you would like to do better, read a couple of the study guides that help you figure out how to do things efficiently. But remember that it's just an obstacle to get past, not your end goal.
  11. Apr 19, 2015 #10
    Thank you for the response. Now when you say that there are lots of schools that don't require ACT or SAT results as a part of their applications is that in the US and are they good schools? If so this is great to hear and I greatly appreciate this information. As for studying and improving my speed I am trying to do this but i find it increasingly difficult but I will keep trying. Again, thank you for this answer.
  12. Apr 19, 2015 #11


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    Well, Wesleyan University is one. Here's their http://www.wesleyan.edu/admission/applying/standardized_test.html [Broken]. Google will quickly find you others. Whether they are good for your purposes I can't say.

    I would encourage you to consider that being good at test taking is not a critical life skill. It will get you certain opportunities early on, but it's not ultimately important. Spending your time on getting good at the things you want to be doing is much, much more important. And even more important than that is figuring out what you enjoy doing.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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