Stress of ACT tests builds for students


Junior Alicia Thompson of Moffat County High School wants to get a good score on the upcoming ACT test.

Senior Deric Dill took it last year and says he did well enough, but isn't concerned with the results.

"I want to take a year off after high school," Dill said. "I want to get a decent job, live in my own house and go from there."

Individual scores on the state-required ACT test play a large factor in whether students get into some colleges. High marks can mean acceptance into schools like University of Colorado and Colorado State University. Lower scores may have students choosing some out-of-state colleges or schools in states where the test isn't required.

Every Moffat County High School junior will take the ACT test April 28.

The ACT rates students in the four areas of English, mathematics, reading and science.

It is similar to the SAT tests students take as juniors or seniors. But the thrust of the ACT is more fact-based, some teachers said.

The ACT is a predictor of what students can do in college, said Carroll Moore a counselor at the high school.

The months leading up to the ACT testing day are stressful for some students who rely on high marks to get into the college of their choice.

"You tend to see anxiety in students who are really interested in going to college," Moore said.

But sometimes colleges will overlook a student's poor grade point average if they earn high ACT marks, she added.

That's another reason why some students put a lot of effort into studying for the ACT.

The high school offers an extension class for students who want to learn what to expect on the test.

Students meet for 30-minute classes to take sample sections of tests similar to ACT testing.

"I think there's some anxiety about taking the test," said Joy Tegtman who teaches the high school's ACT and SAT preparation class. "The good thing about this class is it alleviates some of that."

Tegtman offers students tips on how think about test questions and analyze word problems.

"It's good for them to be familiar with the types of questions they'll be asked," she said. "The only thing I can't do is teach the subject matter itself."

Soon after her rotating class of junior students finishes the ACT tests in late April, Tegtman plans to show students options for attending college.

Students who aren't pleased with their ACT scores can retake tests for a small fee.

Junior Amanda Szatkowski said she was a little nervous to take the ACT.

However, she wasn't sure if it was required to get into the military.

Szatkowski plans to go into the Navy upon graduation.

"It's like a pop quiz. Everybody freaks out if you don't know what to expect," she said. "It's better if you know what's on it so you can study."

Some of her classmates care little about ACT results because they didn't have college plans.

"I don't think a lot of people like taking it," she said. "I think they think it's pointless."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or

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