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Student voices

Last Saturday, I took the ACT for the second time. I took my last set of MCA's for math last week, and I have two AP tests in the near future to tackle. Yes, standardized testing season is upon all high school students. It is clearly the happiest time of the year.

In all seriousness, standardized tests are extremely important and can literally determine one's future. It is intimidating to analyze that fact, but it also cannot be ignored. There are feelings of complete nervousness sitting in a testing room, mixed with pure motivation to achieve a successful score. After all, your entire capacity of knowledge attained in high school somehow comes down to these types of tests.

Whether or not students should be evaluated based on standardized tests is a commonly raised question. AP tests, which occur in May and may grant college credit if passed, are an accurate indication of the test taker's knowledge and comprehension of the course material. Even after succeeding in an AP class from September to May, immense studying is absolutely necessary to receive a passing score.

However, the ACT is quite different. For those unfamiliar, it is a four-subject test composed of English, math, science and reading. Some can take the test without studying, while others invest endless amounts of time and even enroll in special classes to prepare.

The simplicity of standardized tests is interesting. I don't mean how easy the actual tests are, but instead, how bizarre it is to compress years of education into a four-hour assessment. Of course, these scores are not the only factors in determining your future--grades and extra-curricular activities are also extremely important--but still, the weight is significant compared to the amount of time invested in the other factors.

Interestingly enough, some universities have stopped requiring the ACT from applicants. Does that indicate an end to standardized testing? No, I think it definitely does not, but it is a compelling option for those who are admittedly poor test-takers. The question of whether teens should be put under that amount of pressure, combined with the fact that one test cannot display one's full array of knowledge, is most likely the reason some universities opt out of requiring it.

Standardized testing also unofficially marks the end of the school year, which is just another reason to take them seriously. Succeeding in standardized tests is possible--the key in that success, however, is figuring out how much preparation you need and actually taking the initiative in studying. With my AP tests coming up quick, all I will be doing for the next few weeks is studying European history and English language and composition constantly. It is a bummer to add this onto my already heavy workload, but the closeness of summer--as well as the possibility for free college credit--is excellent motivation.

Marnie Sciamanda is a student at Rosemount High School. Her column appears every other week.