Standardized Stresses

Hear Dowling juniors’ thoughts on the ACT and their tips on how to prepare for the upcoming ACT in March


Becca Youngers

The Post wishes you a happy testing season; don’t stress yourself out too much!

Becca Youngers, Editor-in-chief

Junior year has often gained the reputation of the hardest year of high school, but why? Many students would argue that the added standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT play a big role into the stresses of junior year.


The Post talked to three juniors on their opinions regarding the ACT, expectations, and methods of studying they recommend to other students. Dowling is offering a free Pre-ACT and ACT on Tuesday, March 30th, and Dowling students are either planning to study in advance, push the idea of the test to the back of their head, or are somewhere in between.


For those that have already taken the ACT, their opinions are subjective. For students like Hannah Martin (11), the thought of the ACT leaves a sour taste in their mouth; they preferred other standardized test options such as the SAT.


“Generally, the ACT stressed me out, and I did not like it. I think I would rate it like a 4.5/10,” Martin said.


Other students such as Sarah Hochberger (11) were indifferent after taking the test. 


“I feel like I did OK on it. Nothing spectacular, but not horrible,” Hochberger said.


For many juniors though, they haven’t had the opportunity to take the ACT yet. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, testing has been pretty limited up until late 2020, especially for the Class of 2022. Along with limited testing for both the Class of 2021 and 2022, a few colleges have already opted to be test-optional for the Class of 2022.


One of the most difficult parts of preparing for the ACT is the risk of the unknown. Students usually lean towards two main paths: studying and preparing beforehand or going into the test with no prior preparation. 


There are positives and negatives to both options, of course. Though Anna Heitzman (11) still hasn’t taken the ACT, she would rather be safe than sorry.


“I would suggest preparing beforehand; if you’re anything like me, I would recommend looking over the science section the most,” Heitzman said.


On the other hand, students such as Martin wanted to get a good starting point of where they were at score-wise before going into deeper studying.


“Personally, I did not practice for my first ACT,” Martin said. “I would recommend taking the test without preparing once just to get a feel for what you actually need to study, and then study those parts before you take it again.”


Hochberger agreed with Martin in going to the test with an open-minded, stress-free approach.


“I wouldn’t do too much studying because a lot of times the first test is used as kind of a baseline,” Hochberger said.


As for what they recommended revising beforehand, math seemed to be the common denominator, if you will.


“I would recommend revising for the math section the most because you have to remember the most material from your past years of math,” Hochberger said.


“I would recommend that students revise most for the math section, especially some algebra and geometry sections that lots of people tend to forget,” Martin said.


Studying methods is where most students tended to differ. Some preferred to go to a specialized ACT tutor, while others preferred independent studying with an emphasis on ACT practice tests. All of the interviewees agreed that practice tests were the way to go.


“I think practice tests and individual studying will be the most effective methods for me,” Heitzman said.


“I think practice tests and tutoring are probably the best way to go about studying. The practice tests are very similar to the actual test and they help you learn how to pace yourself,” Hochberger said. “I prepared for the test by taking practice tests and then looking over my answers to see what I did wrong.” 


No matter what you do to prepare, or lack thereof, the ACT is a measure to see where you are both academically and in test-taking. Though controversial, the ACT is a right of passage for many high school students and continues to be the standard.


Again, the Pre-ACT and ACT will be offered by Dowling on Tuesday, March 30th. 


To note, Dowling will help prepare you with any prior testing requirements such as giving information on grades and courses taken along with some personal information.


So, with that being said, happy testing from The Post!