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Should the ACT be required when applying for college?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/18/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 944 times Debate No: 46176
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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The ACT test is completely irrelevant to a person's capability and says nothing about a student's character. The test is a lot of wasted stress and time. The information on the tests are important, but you can see whether the student knows the material by looking at their high school grades. Their character can be more effectively judged by their school record and any letters of recommendations.


First I'd like to thank my opponent for this debate. This is my first debate on here so please bear with me.

I'll begin by responding to my opponents arguments and then present my own.

C1- The ACT "says nothing about a persons character"

-The ACT is not intended to measure a student's "character," rather it is used to measure a students knowledge of core academic subjects (typically math, science, reading, and grammar, with an optional writing portion). This test is not designed or used to measure whether a student is a hard worker, good, person, or any other character trait. It is used only to see what general concepts the student knows and is capable of doing.

C2- The ACT is "wasted stress and time"

-Because the ACT has practical functions (which I will address later) it is not a "waste." It is indeed a burden of time and stress, however this too can be a good measure of students. If a student cannot balance the time and stress of an important examination then they will encounter significant struggles in college where such examinations will occur in most classes multiple times a semester.

C3- "you can see whether the student knows the material by looking at their high school grades"

-Looking at a student's grade only tells you whether that individual teacher considered their work to be satisfactory or not. On the whole these grades can tell you whether a student is generally high achieving or low achieving, but the grades do little to fully confirm what a student knows. For instance, a University could see that I got an A in "Communication Arts 2" (an actual class all students in my school take) but that does little to tell them whether I am capable of critical reading. These skills must be tested to be proven.

I would now like to turn to my own arguments which will further explain my own side.

P1- Colleges need a way to compare students.
-While we like to further the idea that we are all individual snowflakes that are too unique to be compared, the fact is that colleges MUST put us all on a single playing field. When 5,000 applicants are trying to get 1,000 open enrollment spots, the University can't just throw up their hands and say that the students are apples and oranges. True, there is on great way to singularly measure intelligence, but the university must have some kind of standardized metric that can sort students into general categories based upon their abilities to demonstrate their knowledge.

P2- The problems with the ACT are balanced by other entrance requirements.
-As my opponent pointed out in their last point, the ACT is hardly ever the only requirement for university admission. Most schools require, at the very least, gpa, letters of recommendation, extra-curricular activities, entrance essays, and general applications. No school looks solely at the ACT score to make a decision. Therefore, a student with a slightly lower ACT score could make up for it by having a high GPA, good recommendations, writing a good essay, and participating in school activities. Even though students are simplified to key characteristics, they are not simply represented as that single number.

P3- The ACT helps prepare students for the reality of important exams.
-Many college classes reduce a student's entire knowledge and progress of the subject to 2 exams, the midterm and the final. These tests, like the ACT, are not ideal representations of student learning but they represent the reality that a student's learning must be tested in some way. Furthermore, some graduate programs require similar exams. Law school and med school look at standardized test scores in order to help them compare students and make enrollment decisions. While these can never fully gauge a student's capabilities, they are used as one measure among many to help accurately represent students and compare them to each other.

With that I welcome my opponent's responses.
Debate Round No. 1


In return: I thank my opponent, this is also my first debate.

Colleges want students of good character. Although a student who is well educated is valued, a student who has the potential to be an upstanding and law-abiding citizen is even more so.
ACT tests were originally designed by ivy league schools to pick the "diamonds in the rough". Students who typically wouldn't get accepted to college because of their living situations could get the scholarships and acceptance letters that they deserved. Afterwards, many colleges followed the footsteps of their superiors as a way to limit the amount of applicants. Since then, ACT tests have been over-used to an extreme. Now colleges use ACT to exclude more students instead of giving opportunity to students that need it.


I do not disagree that there is value in a student's character and that school's do look for it. However, as I explained before, this is done through other methods. A student's character is often determined by looking at their disciplinary record, letters of recommendation, and community service/volunteer work. The point is that it doesn't matter whether it is more important that a student is educated or upstanding because colleges look at BOTH as BOTH are important. Of course, the ACT cannot be used to measure both, and that is why other criteria are used.

I cannot pretend to know the origins of the ACT, however my opponent claims that the real problem is that students use them to limit the amount of applicants. As I pointed out in the previous round, that is exactly the point, and a valid point at that. Schools often have far more applicants than they have positions and they must find a way to whittle the number of applicants down. Of course it may not be a perfect system, but the school has no choice. When it comes down to it, students need to be cut.

My opponent also makes the argument that the ACT is "over-used to an extreme" however they offer no evidence or explanation for how they come to this conclusion. College's use the ACT as one of many factors to help them minimize the existing pool of applicants for enrollment. It is unlikely that they cut this pool down any more than necessary as they want to maintain a healthy student population and, of course, get tuition money.

There are a few points of mine that my opponent has failed to address.
1. The ACT is not the only test used to select students. As I repeated above, the ACT would be unfair if it was the only measure of a student's capabilities, but other factors are taken into consideration such as grades, recommendations, activities, etc.

2. Colleges need a way to compare students in order to cut down the number of applicants. My opponent has yet to argue against the necessity of having a standardized way to compare students.

3. The ACT prepares students for an academic world dominated by singularly important exams. Midterms, finals, entrance exams for post-graduate schools and programs, each of these encompass the same idea as the ACT. They cannot fully capture who a student is but they are used to help schools get a better understanding of who they might be letting into their school.
Debate Round No. 2


My point exactly. There are other ways to measure the students abilities. Thank you. The ACT is completely unnecessary. Why should the ACT be required when we can prove our abilities, skills, and knowledge through our other achievements and documentation service records or demonstrative work. We can prove that we have understanding of calculus by passing our calculus class with a noteworthy grade (as well as algebra 1 and 2, geometry, and other math based courses). You do NOT need the ACT to show that you are capable of hard work and necessary math skills.

My opponent said the school has no choice when it comes to limiting the amount of applicants using the ACT test. Are there really no other ways to limit students? Think about that. Colleges can limit the amount of applicants if the student does not meet certain requirements such as over-all grades, school records, and GPA records. Without the ACT, colleges could reduce the number of applicants using the above just as quickly and effectively. My point is not that there should be no way to limit the applicants considered, only that that it should not be the ACT.

Colleges want to accept students that they think will become successful citizens. NOT because they have a chance at keeping a passing grade in their courses. The only reason colleges want to make sure the students can pass the college classes they take is because they want their students to be knowledgeable. A knowledgeable student will be successful in their career, which makes a better name for the college and, in turn, brings in more students with more bags of money for the school. It doesn't matter if you can pass the tests in the class: those working in the admissions office will laugh all the way to the bank either way.

What i meant by my last statement was that the ACT was once a test used for a noble cause: to help find students that could not prove themselves worthy of an ivy league college because of their race could submit the test to testify that they were indeed smart enough for a school of such high class. this is no longer the case! Schools now use it to restrict opportunity instead of giving it. Instead of the main idea being: show us you are capable and we will give you the chance to be successful, it's: Take this test, if your score is low, you are valued less than those who are good test takers.

In truth, the real world is NOT full of exams. Only college and other schools are. You will have to take no exams to be a successful business woman or a social worker or artist. those things are all measured by your personal skill level. This is why the ACT is unfair. Those who are terrible test takers will not be able to prove they will be good students.


My point when bringing up the other factors was to explain that the ACT is not used as an all encompassing measure. The university can look at one's ability to keep up in class (grades), ability to get along with teachers (recommendations), etc. But the ACT does two additional functions. 1. It gives the university an idea of how much a student already knows about the core subjects and 2. give the university the crucial ability to have some kind of standardized measurement for all students. We may dislike it, but university's MUST be able to have some kind of common measure applied to all students in order to accurately compare this.

First of all, your implication that the ACT is the main device used to limit students is simply false. Schools look at a variety of factors, not just ACT, when deciding whether to admit you. Second, as i've mentioned before, there must be a standardized measure. Getting an A in calculus at one school is not the same as an A at any other. Schools/teachers have different requirements and each student could have different knowledge of calculus by the end. The ACT puts all students on a similar measurement field.

There is also the further issue of knowledge of the subject. A student with an A in calculus should be able to ace the calculus section of the ACT and not have to worry. Students with high grades should get scores which reflect their capabilities. If a student can get an A in a math class yet fail the math portion of the ACT then their abilities in math are not truly that good. I can speak personally to this. I had great grades in math despite being terrible at it. Sure enough I got a poor math grade on the ACT which reflected this.

This statement is not quite accurate: "Colleges want to accept students that they think will become successful citizens. NOT because they have a chance at keeping a passing grade in their courses. " It is true that colleges want successful citizens, but they ALSO want successful students. This is because successful students get into good post graduate schools and go on to be very successful citizens.

I never said the "real world" was full of exams, I said the "academic" world was. For a student to be successful in college they must be able to deal with important exams. If a student cannot cope with exams they will do poorly in school and the university does not want to enroll a student that they believe will be unsuccessful. Furthermore, post graduate applications/schooling have similarly important exams and these schools are critical for some students to further their career potentials.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Mistress 3 years ago
And to you as well!
Posted by PiedPiper 3 years ago
I didn't realize that that was the last round. I meant to conclude by thanking you for offering the debate and being a respectful first opponent. Thanks, it was fun!
Posted by Mistress 3 years ago
please make your argument
Posted by PiedPiper 3 years ago
do you intend this round to be for acceptance or may I start making my argument?
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