Issues with Standardized Testing

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Standardized testing. Students across the country work countless hours, studying to earn those elusive A’s, only to then be denied entry to the college of their dreams because of a multiple-choice test.

This is the harsh reality for many students.

Many colleges, including the UC schools, currently have the SAT or ACT as an admission requirement with a set minimum score. Score any lower and students have significantly decreased their chances of getting admitted. You can have the grades, proof of your hard efforts and dedication to go beyond, but a test can stand in the way between you and all you’ve worked for.

Determined students can spend hours on websites that claim to increase test scores, practicing, and feeling confident that they will be ready when test day arrives, but are they really when compared to students who have enlisted the help of private tutors and enrolled in elite test prep courses? Depending on a student’s financial situation, services such as these are not always an option. 

It’s not fair that a test such as the SAT or ACT, which is used by many colleges to evaluate a student’s readiness and make admission decisions based on scores, also depends on whether or not the student taking it could afford to be properly prepared for it. The score of a student who didn’t have access to the same level of help, shouldn’t have to compete against one that did. 

In addition to being unfair, standardized tests are not an accurate measure of a student’s skills. A study by the Brookings Institute found that “50-80% of year-over-year test score improvements were temporary.” The reason for this being that students tend to binge study right before a test. Not only is this extremely overwhelming, it’s only beneficial for a short period of time. After the test, there’s a low likelihood that knowledge gained from a binge-study session is retained because the sole purpose of studying was to do well on a test which at most lasts a couple of hours. 

Standardized tests on their own are not the problem. The problem is how well a student does, also relies on their circumstances. Students are not their scores, and they shouldn’t be held back by them because a four-hour test dictated they weren’t smart enough. The practice of using a test to determine a student’s worth and chances should come to an end. It’s time more people realize the advantages and disadvantages that exist within those taking them. Instead of standardized testing, schools should prioritize a student’s work ethic and willingness to pursue higher education when deciding who gets to walk through their doors.