Exam Exemptions Cutoff Date, and Why It, to Put It Bluntly, Stinks


Joe Williams, Pigeon Enthusiast, Part-Time Contributor

To my fellow seniors, exam exemptions are quite the tantalizing prize. Exemptions are an opportunity to avoid doing more mindless busywork and to secure any good class grades you might otherwise have put in jeopardy thanks to the massive 20% weighting of the final. But for many seniors this year, that fond wish may not come true.

In a surprising piece of correspondence shared by the school on November 16, 2021, the school announced the criteria for exam exemptions (based on either your total ACT score or how much you improved) with an unfortunate stipulation – 

Only ACT tests taken March 19, 2021 and before would be eligible for exemptions.

It doesn’t take much to deduce why this ruling is so unfortunate. If you, heaven forbid, had the audacity to take your ACT test over the summer, or worse yet, in the autumn of this school year, you would be punished for your heinous sins by having your test scores discarded for consideration from exemptions. Worse yet, this wasn’t even something students could have prepared for – my own independent research found zero evidence of this rule from before November 16th, and from a sampling of forty select students, exactly zero had heard anything about this ruling in advance.

The ridiculous nature of this announcement is difficult to understate. It came suddenly and without warning, only a few weeks before finals themselves, and offers no recourse to those who might have otherwise qualified. One student I interviewed claimed that he was “eligible for eight total exemptions” if he had been allowed to use his summer scores, but was eligible for none thanks to this ruling. Another student said that “I would have studied more” if they’d known about this rule.

Whether or not there is anything to be done about this ruling this semester is unknown. In all likelihood, the unfortunate few whose hopes at exemptions have been dashed are to be left out to hang. Whether later ACT scores will be counted for second semester also remains to be seen, but either way, I’d be happy if they just told us in any real advance. Holding your cards until you play them is great in poker, but no good when you’re communicating with your students.