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Thomas Broderick

Is the ACT Necessary?

Hello again Magoosh readers. At some point in your ACT journey, you are bound to feel frustrated. You might even throw up your hands and ask why is the ACT necessary? I’m sorry to say, dear readers, that the ACT (or the SAT) is necessary to apply for the vast majority of colleges and scholarship opportunities in the United States.


Is the ACT Necessary? -Mgaoosh

Don’t let this be you.


Worry not, students. In this article we will take a look at what makes standardized tests like the ACT necessary, and why you should thank your lucky stars that they exist in the first place.

A Little History Lesson

Until about 100 years ago, if you wanted to go to college, you had to be rich (well, for the most part). The college application process was as simple as, “Let’s see…this applicant comes from money…and his dad went here. He’s in!” Though good for the rich, most Americans couldn’t go to college.

Then a little thing called the Progressive Era happened. If someone wanted to work for the government, that person now had to take a test to prove that he or she was smart enough for the job. Gone were the days when being someone’s cousin was enough to get a cushy job as postal inspector…or something like that.

Colleges soon got the hint, and by the 1920s, America’s Ivy League universities were giving the first standardized test to male and female applicants. These early tests would evolve into the SAT. After World War II, colleges across the nation threw open their doors to returning soldiers hoping to further their education. Thanks to the SAT and then ACT, the doors have stayed open ever since.

But how is the ACT necessary for MY success?

Ah, yes, the real question. First of all, I’m not going to argue that standardized tests like the ACT are infallible. There is no perfect instrument that levels the playing field for our nation’s millions of high school students. That being said, let’s go through how the work you put in now for the ACT can help you later.

The first benefit is (hopefully) obvious: college admissions. Though colleges are beginning to move towards a more holistic, or well rounded approach to admissions, ACT (or SAT) scores are still the jewel in the college admissions crown.

The second benefit is that a high ACT score will make you eligible for many scholarship opportunities. With the price of college skyrocketing over the last few decades, every scholarship dollar means less, or even no debt in your future. In short, your future self will thank you if you apply yourself now.

Final Thoughts

As a former student and educator, I truly understand how frustrating the ACT can become. Yet don’t let temporary frustration make you lose sight of your post-high school goals. Until something better comes along, the ACT is still one of the few keys that will unlock your future as a college student. And if at any point in the future the ACT makes you feel like pulling out your hair, be sure to check out Nine YouTube Videos That Will Help You Destress. Till next time, Magoosh readers.

About Thomas Broderick

Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.

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