Flashback Friday Moment of The Week: 5/1/2020

by Juan Thomas
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This COVID-19 pandemic is crazy. Spring semesters all across the country have been shuttered because of it. I feel terrible for the students who were looking forward to graduation…from kindergarten, from high school, and from college. As I very well know, you never get those moments back. Today, a colleague was telling me that her son was scheduled to take the ACT last month in hopes of bolstering his academic résumé ahead of his senior year of high school. That test got canceled and she doesn’t know when he’ll be able to reschedule. I remember the ACT. I remember how vital it was to my higher education. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the first ACT test.

How I first came across this moment? After transferring into Huffman High from Parker High in the Spring 2001 semester, I sat down with the guidance counselor to talk about my plans. We talked about the Alabama High School Graduation Exam. We talked about the SAT. We talked about the ACT. She suggested I take the ACT in October and the SAT the following February. I ended up taking the ACT in August before I started my junior year of high school. At the time, I felt the SAT was more important so I wanted a longer leash on that one. I ended up taking the test on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

What it meant to me then? At the time, I was very naïve about how important the ACT was. I studied for it and all but I didn’t view it as the make-or-break as far as getting into college was concerned. I placed more of a premium on the SAT. I guess that’s why I didn’t feel any pressure. I ended up scoring a 26 on the test, including high marks in English and Reading. I was actually surprised at how well I did.

What it means to me now? As crazy as it sounds, I wasn’t satisfied with that 26…not when I saw that my scores in Math (22) and Science (21) lacked far behind my aforementioned English (30) and Reading (32) scores. I became obsessed with trying to get at least a 28 in all sections. I couldn’t quite make it in Math though. Nevertheless, that first test is still something I think about when I think about high-level performances in situations where I didn’t feel pressure.

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