Bring back paper ACTs for the March test


ACT has gone all electronic for the in-school testing administration.

Joby Mitmesser

It’s school-wide ACT day.

You walk into school, go to your testing group, and prepare yourself to stare at a screen for the next three to four hours. The farther along into the test you get, the more your eyes burn and your head pounds.

No one wants to have this experience when taking one of the most important tests that can determine future colleges and post high school opportunities for students. When everyone takes the free ACT in March, students need an option to take the ACT on paper. 

Everything going online is not always what’s best. ACT offering a paper option for the March school test would be a positive change and result in higher scores.

Sitting 3-4 hours in front of a paper is more doable than a computer screen. Without the constant attention of blue light toward the eyes, students would be much more engaged throughout the whole test.  

The online ACT also introduces confusion and out-of-the-way tools that most newcomers to the ACT have no clue how to use effectively. 

The highlight, underline, calculator, and eraser tool on the online ACT may sound simple to use at first glance, but truly require practice before taking the test, which is time students don’t get. 

With the paper ACT, underlining and erasing can be valuable tools that everyone knows how to use. A tangible calculator is also more well known to students and more reliable than an online calculator.  

Adding on the problems of the computerized ACT, computers tend to have a very high chance of malfunctioning based on many factors.

Students are supposed to take the ACT at a certain time after walking into their testing groups. When the online ACT doesn’t function as it should, some students fall behind on the start time for the test, throwing off the whole schedule for the testing day. The problems range from Wi-Fi inconsistency to unsolvable computer issues. 

With the use of a paper test in this situation, there is zero chance for issues and zero chance for the schedule to be discombobulated because of these technology issues.

Without the worry of malfunctions, the teachers will also be more free and open to worry about their own testing group and less about the online problems that are hard to solve without expert intervention.

Some say the ACT is an inaccurate method of assessing what one has learned.

However, because the educational system has decided the ACT is the best way to assess students, offering a paper option to the students would be the most helpful in accommodating for how all types of students test. 

ACT has announced that all its tests, not just the school-wide administration, will soon be electronic.

This is unfortunate and detrimental for those of us who not only prefer a paper test, but perform more successfully on them.

If the ACT is really going to be the end-all, be-all of standardized testing, then it should accommodate all types of test takers.