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A few weeks after the stress of test-taking subsides, a new stress sets in: actually getting your scores. And then even if you got the score you wanted or needed, a whole new stress sets in. I remember going back to school the day after receiving my scores (all juniors were required to take the ACT as part of a state-wide test, so most of us received our scores on the same day). Most people were excited or disappointed, but no matter the outcome, they were asking others what score they got. And while some people were perfectly fine talking about what they got, it made others–including myself–incredibly uncomfortable.

And it was not just people who did not do as well as they wanted to who were uncomfortable sharing their score–in my experience those people were disappointed, but not afraid to say they didn’t do as well as they wanted to and were going to retake it. The people who were most uncomfortable were those who did traditionally “good.” (Note: a good score is not a specific number, it is ultimately subjective and dependent on the school you hope to gain admission to and your own strengths and weaknesses.)

Now you might be thinking, “If you did well, why would you want to hide that!?” And that line of thinking makes sense–you should be proud of you accomplishments. However, when accomplishments are so quantitative, the situation is a little different. There isn’t much room for interpretation on what that accomplishment means. While, for example, being first chair in an orchestra could mean a person is the best player, it could also mean that they are better in high stress situations like a playing test. In the case of the ACT, though, a 36 is understood to mean that the student performed perfectly, and there is not much room for interpretation.

So, what does that mean for someone who got a high score? Well, if the person is uncomfortable when being praised, sharing their score could easily make them uncomfortable. Also, if they did well, but not perfect, the question may be brought up “Well, while didn’t you do even better?”, which puts a great amount of pressure of the student. Also, keep in mind the feelings of those around you. Let’s say there are two friends. One got a 25 on the ACT and the other got a 32, each scoring several points above their goals. Both students are extremely proud of themselves. Until the first person hears the second one’s score. Now, even though they did better than they expected, now they feel as though they did not do well in comparison. While comparing yourself to others will usually make you miserable, even if you are aware of that, it is still incredibly difficult not to compare. Ultimately, whomsoever’s score it is is the one who gets to decide who knows it. For some, sharing such an accomplishment is something they want to do, and for others it isn’t–but that’s their decision.

However, what do you do when you go to school and everyone wants to know how you did? If you want to share, feel free to do so. If you don’t, then don’t. And if you are worried that people will take your unwillingness as you having done bad, don’t tell them your specific score, but where your score fell in relation to your goal. Say, for example, “I didn’t quite reach my goal, so I’m going to retake it,” “I reached my goal,” or “I actually did better than I expected!” No one should force you to tell them your score, but even if they are pressuring you, those answers will hopefully satisfy their curiosity.

So, remember: your score, your decision. Share if you want, but don’t give into the pressure to share if you don’t want to!



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