I got an email from my son’s school this week that they will be taking a practice ACT. He is a sophomore and as I read the email, I went back, way back, in my mind to when my guidance counselor at McGavock High School told me to come to his office.
“Joe, you need to sign up and take the ACT.” “The what?” “The ACT. It is a standardized test that colleges look at and you have to score a certain amount. The better your score is, the better your chance to get into that college is.” “I still have no clue what you are talking about but whatever you say.”
I sign up for this test, still having no clue what in the world I am about to be seeing or doing. As always, your friends give you the best advice and this was what I got–“Joe, just answer all C. Just circle all C and you are all set. You see, the first answer and the last answer, are meant to confuse you. B is still confusing but C is where the answer is.”
I pondered this for a moment and then asked, “Where did you get this information?” He said, “A friend’s relative puts the questions in there and he told me.” This is equivalent to saying your neighbor’s cousin lives next door to a guy who is married to a lady and her best friend used to date the guy who went to the same college as the guy who came up with the ACT.
I show up to take the test and it was as if I was walking into a wake. Eerily silent, only head nods and don’t you dare make a sound. The proctor, which is a word I still laugh at today, gave the rules and away we went.
“Joe, just answer all C.” That is all that was bouncing inside my mostly empty brain. Some questions I actually knew. Most I had zero clue so you know what I did? Yes, answered with C. Three hours later, which seemed like fifteen, and the test was over.
Now we wait for the scores. While we do, you get word that this person got a 33 out of a possible 36. Your reaction is, “What? No way they are that smart!” Then someone gets a 31, and another person gets a 34, and on and on. You start thinking that you will be up there as well.
19. I got a 19. I was elated. A 19 to me was a 33 and that is so sad. Then I learn that we can take it a few more times, if we want, to improve our score. And they had a study guide as well so sign me up!
I took the test three more times and I made a 19 every single time. I took the ACT four times and made a 19 every single time. I didn’t get any smarter but as my mom always told me, “Honey, you didn’t get any dumber.”
I have talked to people for years about these standardized tests and funny, the “answer C to all,” is well known. Who knew? Also, many get anxiety taking these tests, I just wanted it over.
Now my son embarks on his own ACT journey. Thank God that he is much smarter than I am but I swear, if he gets a 19, I won’t stop laughing. Ever.