At first, I was excited to hear that all sophomores would be required to take the ACT Aspire test. We were promised pizza and early dismissal, and the thought of missing a full day of classes without the stress of make-up work was a dream come true. But when I walked into Room 216 the morning of the test and saw the rows of cardboard cubicles and miniature laptops, all my excitement was quickly replaced with overwhelming dread.
Thirty minutes after the designated start time, my proctor finally started to read the usual standardized test spiel — do your own work, answer all the questions, try not to fail. The test comprised five parts, ranging from 40 to 70 minutes each in length. The next section could only be started after the allotted time had passed, regardless of whether all students finished with time to spare. Knowing the test would be long, I came prepared with a book to help pass the time. Unfortunately, when I reached for my book after finishing the first section with 20 minutes remaining, my proctor informed me that busy work was strictly prohibited, and I would have to find another way to entertain myself.
I gave up counting ceiling tiles when I hit 237.
By the time we took our lunch break, my brain was thoroughly fried. I was hungry, bored, and all I wanted to do was go home. I got my pizza, as promised, and my proctor ushered me into a small room to a long, already-full table. I opted to stand in the corner, and struggled through lunch, balancing my pizza on my knee.
After lunch, it was nearly impossible to refocus on the test. By the time the final section started, I no longer cared about the quality of my work. My eyes hurt from staring at a screen for so long, and I just wanted to be done. I blew through the writing portion without a second thought, not caring that my whole essay was a huge cliche and poorly developed. When we were finally dismissed for the day, it was well after 3 p.m.. The previously promised 2 p.m. dismissal had apparently been forgotten.
Most sophomores I know don’t possess the attention span to listen to their teacher for a full 50-minute period, much less silently read and answer questions on a computer screen for hours at a time, especially when there is no incentive to do well. The test is supposedly meant to give students the skills they need for successful futures. How it does this, I don’t know. All the Aspire test did for me was solidify my hatred of standardized tests.