More Wisconsin students than ever will soon take the ACT exam, thanks to changes in state education policy, which will next year will make the test a requirement for high schoolers.
Kreigh Knerr has helped develop test prep apps, and runs Delafield-based Knerr Learning Center that helps students prep for exams like the ACT.
Knerr says there are advantages and disadvantages to requiring students to take this test. On the plus side, everybody has a shot at getting into post-secondary education and encourage more students to look at colleges after high school. Plus, the tests are free for students, compared with paying the $35-$50 for each time the test is taken.
On the other hand, he doesn't feel the test evaluates school curriculum well. Knerr says this is particularly evident in the science section of the exam.
"The ACT science section is to science, what a tofu burger is to a Sobelman’s hamburger," he says.
This section, which is the last on the test, features graphs and tables that the students have to quickly interpret and make "hasty generalizations" - which he says goes against what students are taught in labs and classrooms.
Knerr’s advice: underline all the headings in the graphs and tables, making it easier to scout out particular information.
The reading section of the test also typically poses problems for students. Knerr calls this section the “glorified word search.” The graders of the tests are looking for the student to answer the questions completely and how well the student comprehends what they read.