Standardized Testing Isn’t For Everybody

Standardized Testing Isn’t For Everybody

 Hannah Ma ’22

During high school, all students feel the pressure from grades, colleges and parents. This period is crucial for our future, and we are constantly working towards creating that stellar college application. Of course, colleges take into account our extracurriculars, athletics and leadership positions, but there is always that cloud hanging over the heads of students in the form of standardized testing. The SAT and ACT, while optional this year, will always be an area for students because they don’t always capture our knowledge. Moreover, if we opt-out of testing, how do we know that that truly won’t have a negative impact on our application?

Overall, standardized testing is unreliable in capturing the essence of a prospective student. First off, it only includes sections considered core subjects, but different people excel in different expertises. While reading and math are important for a strong foundation, it is ridiculous that poor scores in either of these could prevent a student from going to a certain college. I know every student has more to offer than what can be expressed in a simple test score. Colleges, I think, are realizing this now, but the efforts towards understanding applicants can’t just stop at becoming test-optional.

This year, because of COVID-19, many colleges became test-optional. For me, this change was a relief at first, but then I began to question if applications are truly optional. With such a modification, how will colleges be able to get the full scope of a student? Since colleges aren’t taking test scores into account for students that opt out of them, they should replace it with other methods to deepen their understanding of these students. I know a common concern, from my perspective, is that colleges will never actually see all that I have to give. For one thing, colleges should place more emphasis on skills that are more important in the workplace, such as communication and character. Some of the best people I’ve met don’t have the highest test scores, but I know they would be an asset to any company.

When I studied for the SAT, instead of working on my grammar or math skills, I had to adjust and learn the style of testing instead. Standardized testing is favorable to those who are good test-takers and work well in a timed setting, but it also excludes students who simply struggle with that aspect of school. Though test-makers attempt to create fair tests to have an even playing field, in actuality, the tests aren’t impartial. In a setting with such high stakes, it’s frustrating for students who feel like the cards are stacked against them.

In assessing students, I don’t think standardized testing should be valued as much as other factors. It is unreliable, and frankly, biased towards certain types of learners. Colleges should take into account all strengths of a student, not just core subjects. Becoming test-optional is a step in the right direction, but further steps should be taken to include ways for applicants to show off their other positive traits. The college process is already stressful, and standardized testing just adds to that stress.

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