If you're applying to college, you've probably spent one or two miserable Saturday mornings filling in ovals and writing rushed essays for the ACT or SAT. Whatever you think of these exams, they are an important piece of applications to the majority of four-year colleges. If you're worried about your performance on the ACT or SAT, take a deep breath and realize that low scores don't have to dash your dreams of going to a good college.
For one, nearly all selective colleges have holistic admissions. They assess you as a whole person, not as a few numbers. You can compensate for low standardized test scores with a good academic record, glowing letters of recommendation, a winning admissions essay, interesting extracurricular activities, a strong interview, and a clear demonstration of interest. Also realize that there are around 850 test-optional colleges including prestigious places like Bowdoin, Wake Forest and Sewanee.
That said, it's true that you aren't likely to get into Harvard or Stanford with an ACT composite score of 18. But as you browse through the college profiles, keep in mind that 25% of all matriculated students had scores below the bottom number in the ACT and SAT score ranges. Those students all demonstrated other strengths that appealed to the college admissions officers.