Why Standardized Tests Should Be De-emphasized For College?

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LA Johnson/NPR

Magdalena Bolinaga, Writer

About a year ago my mom told me it was time to start taking the SAT. You must think that I was prepared to take it, but on the contrary I had no idea what I was in for. I had been studying for a while, but this test just seemed to swallow me whole as soon as I was sitting at the desk looking at the first page. I knew that the SAT or ACT was a big part of the college process, but somehow I would have never thought that the test that is supposed to prove my “intelligence” required me to study unknown material that made me feel like I hadn’t learned nothing in my three years of high school. 

One of the key components to getting into a good college is getting a high SAT or ACT score in order to show you are ready for the next big step in your life. These tests measure your intelligence in Math, Reading, Science, and Vocabulary. It is one of the biggest tools colleges use in order to determine if you are right for their school.

Why should we eliminate them?

Simply because a test will never be an accurate representation of a persons intelligence, and even though colleges also ask for gpa and an essay, most of the weight is still put on the standardized test you take. 

According to late education researcher Gerald W. Bracey, PhD, qualities that standardized tests cannot measure include “creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, empathy, self-awareness, self-discipline, leadership, civic-mindedness, courage, compassion, resourcefulness, sense of beauty, sense of wonder, honesty, and integrity”. These skills are necessary to not only be successful in college, but also in life. 

Some students are just better test takers than others, but at the same time might also be the worst with skills that Dr. Bracey discusses. Others might get anxious or scared when they are taking a test, but have the best critical thinking and creativity ever. 

Colleges that support the SAT and ACT bring up the point that students are allowed to take the test as many times as they need. But, the SAT and ACT is expensive and time consuming. Usually the people who get the highest scores waste thousands of dollars on a tutor or spend hours on end studying. For example taking the SAT costs around $64 with essay and if you want a tutor to help you out get ready to spend around $1,000 per month, but some colleges are trying to change the norm of standardized tests.

Around 1,000 colleges around the U.S.A have started to switch to test optional schools, which means that students may submit their scores if they want to. This is a great way to try to include both students who do well or poorly in tests, but most colleges still don’t understand the teenagers’ struggles.

People expect 17 year olds to know what they want to do with the rest of their life, where they want to learn if for the next amount of years, but at the same time throw you a test that maybe teaches you no real skill that is required for the area you are interested in.

I am now a Senior and after taking the SAT 4 times I can now officially say I get PTSD every time I see or hear the test name. A test should not be the main decision maker to whether a student will have a great or disappointing future. Standardized tests do more harm than good by causing stress and money to hard test takers and also favoring a group of students that don’t accurately represent success or intelligence. Collages are supposed to offer opportunities and be inclusive so everyone gets a chance for higher education, but standardized tests completely opposes those ideas.