The Story of How the ACT Killed My Last Two Brain Cells


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Me after taking the ACT:

As the junior class of 2022 knows, the beloved ACT season has finally come to an end, and with it comes the end of sobbing over an ACT prep booklet at one in the morning while drinking a sixth cup of stress-relief herbal tea. So, in order tcelebrate the end of a truly horrible experience and to enlighten future generations of test takers, here is my ACT experience. 


I arrived at the Delta Hotel early, equipped with four pristinely sharpened No. 2 pencils and a general feeling of exhaustion. The test began at 7:45 in the morning, meaning that I woke up at around 6:15 a.m. in order to anxiously nibble at a piece of peanut butter toast, stare into space, and don my uniform of an oversized sweatshirt and leggings.  


Upon checking in to the test, I was seated towards the front of the giant ballroom and immediately noticed that there was only one clock. For whatever reason, I was mildly disappointed that the clock in question was not a huge sports clock like they have at NBA games, but was even more disappointed to realize that the singular clock in the entire ballroom had such a horrible glare on it that I could not read the time. This was the exact moment when I decided that I did not care about this test anymore. 


Because I arrived so early, I sat and stared at the useless clock. Eventually, more test takers began to trickle into the room and before I knew it, the sound of ACT test booklets being frantically ripped open filled the airI bowed my head and began the English section. After what felt like seconds but what was really 45 minutes, my fellow test-takers and I laid down our pencils and began work on the Math section.  


If you could not deduce from the fact that I write for the school newspaper, I felt most comfortable with the English, Reading, and Writing portions of the ACT. On the flip side, I was extremely nervous about the Math section. So, I was surprised when the first piece of the Math test initially went well. However, as I got deeper and deeper into the section, I realized that I not only had no clue of how long I was taking on each problem, but I also had no clue how to do the problems. The rest of the 60 minutes provided for the Math section went by in a blur, and it was not until the time was up that I realized that I had to guess on most of the problems. 


We were given a short break in between the Math section and the Reading section. Hundreds of dazed students filed out of the ballrooms and congregated in a little lobby area to wolf down oranges, bottled water, and to try to get in line for the bathroom. I quickly realized that fifteen minutes was not a lot of time to try and recover from such a mentally exhausting experience, and eventually shuffled back into the ballroom to take the last half of the test equally as dazed as I when I began. 


The Reading and Science sections came and went similarly to the first two sections of the test, but perhaps with not as many rough patches as the Math section. It would have been wonderful to check the time during these last two sections, but I guess I now have a piece of wisdom to pass on to future generations: always bring a watch to your ACT! 


Finally, by the time I got to the essay, my last two brain cells were bouncing around in my head like a Windows screen saver. I had a very sinister, gut feeling that my essay sounded like an incoherent dumpster fire. I have yet to receive my scores, so only time will tell if my ACT essay reviewer agrees with me. 


At long last, I stumbled out of the Delta at around 12:45 p.m., wincing at the glare of sunlight burning into my exhausted retinas. I drove home, made myself a sandwich, and fell asleep on my couch for at least two hours. (They did not actually provide us lunch during the exam, they just handed out school sack lunches as we were leaving the Delta. I respectfully declined one). 


Which leads us to now, nearly two weeks after the ACT. am happy to announce that I have since grown back one of the brain cells I lost during the exam, and now all I have to do is wait for my scores to come in… and take the AP tests in May. More insanity to follow. 


*Author’s Note: It is important to note that not every experience with the ACT will be the same. Just as certain subjects on the test are easy to some people and more difficult to others, some people may have a completely different test-taking adventure than I did. Also, I am legally not permitted (according to an extremely official ACT contract that I signed with a No. 2 pencil) to share any sort of test questions or answers in this article, so this article is a satirical recount of my mental processes (or lack thereof) while taking the ACT.