Challenges and Benefits of online ACT

Video by Krysta Schwab

Rachel Sandstrom, Staff Writer

Junior year is rapidly coming to an end which means students are desperately scrambling to take the standardized tests required by their college choice. COVID-19 has made taking these tests all the more difficult with many testing locations shutting down left and right due to virus outbreaks. Due to these issues, Roswell High School, along with many other schools offered a free ACT for juniors on March 30. The ACT was administered to students through an app on their school issued surfaces. This could either make the testing experience better for students, invite a whole new set of difficulties, or perhaps provide a mixture of both.

Most students agree that taking the ACT on the surface did provide some useful advantages. Something that was an overarching helpful tool for students was the countdown timer. There was a little timer in the upper right hand corner which allowed students to more easily track their time. Rachel Stone agrees, “The main pro for me was the countdown timer, it was very helpful for pacing yourself and a lot easier than tracking (the time for) the math (section) on a watch.” 

“This may take a while” seems to be the motto for ACT testing. As if the test wasn’t long enough, the updates take hours upon end to complete.
Picture by Rachel Sandstrom

In addition to the countdown timer, there are a couple more things that can be done on a computer program that can’t be done on paper. For instance, on the math section the program bolded the numbers in the word problems which made it easier to focus on the important parts of the problem. Similar to this, in the reading section when the question was asking about a specific portion of the passage, that portion was automatically highlighted making it easier to see what you needed to use to answer the question. Junior Veronica Soroka says, “The online ACT was nice because you could always see the passage and the question on the reading and grammar portion, it even highlighted the parts it was questioning which made me more confident in what I was answering.”

Another pro that Soroka brought up is it took less time to select the questions on the surface than it does on the paper version. Soroka says, “Taking the ACT on the surface was different because it took a lot less time to answer the questions since you didn’t have to fill them in.” Taking the test on paper is more time consuming because you have to physically bubble in each answer choice all the while making sure the bubble is perfect so your scantron can be scored correctly. The surface took this stress out of the equation.

Although there are many pros to taking the ACT on the surface, there are multiple cons that came with it as well. First and foremost, every student had to go through the tireless task of updating and restarting their surface to ensure the testing program would run smoothly. This can take multiple hours and the updates must be done while connected to school Wifi making this a major con for testing on the surface. Kendall Gilreath says, “I had to sit in the parking lot for 3 hours on Saturday just to take the test.” Gilreath is not the only one having to do this. There were many other students who went to the school and sat for hours to accomplish this task.