Why Standardized Testing is Bad

It’s that time of year again. That dreaded time of year when every high school senior no longer has a life outside of college applications. The long, grueling process begins with the big decisions of where to apply and which university is worth the tears and stress. (hyperbole) Next comes the research to find the applications on the confusing university sites and the praying that the application is accepted through Common App. Once they figure out how to be more interesting than everyone else in the world that has applied to the school, it’s time to sit down and crank out the essays. Once they have finished slaving over the applications and essays, it’s time to make sure everything is done and ready to submit (Imagery). But wait. We forgot the worst part…SAT and ACT scores.


When it comes to standardized test scores the process is even longer than applications. Take a trip down memory lane and recall the first time you took the SAT. It was probably junior year or maybe even sophomore year. And it was one of the worst Saturday mornings of your life, right? Let’s recap, shall we. First, you have to wake up at an ungodly hour and truck over to wherever there was an available seat when you signed up.  Second, it’s a Saturday morning. Nobody wants to be in a school let alone taking a four hour test. Third, there is that underlying stress and pressure because you know that the result of the test will low key affect the rest of your future. So you finish the test and think to yourself ‘thank goodness I never have to do that again’ but actually, you probably do. Just imagine taking that test multiple times because your score has to be good enough to get you into college.


So why does it matter? Why do all high school students have to be worried about this test? The college application process was created for admissions officers to judge who will be most successful in all aspects of their school. This is all based on grade point average and transcripts, extracurricular activities, volunteer experience, a personal essay, and test scores. To break it down: GPA and transcripts allow them to predict how well you will do academically, extracurricular activities show your diversity as a person and how you may fit in socially, volunteer experience shows your ability to work in a community, your essay tells them more about you, and test scores…well test scores show nothing! Standardized test scores should not be considered in the admissions process for college because they don’t provide any significant information to schools, they rule out admissions for bad test takers, and they deter people from applying to schools.


To start with the problems of standardized testing, they only test on certain sections of education. So what if those sections are not a student’s strong suit or what if a student hasn’t been trained in those areas of academics? The knowledge that they do know doesn’t even get to be shown. These tests scores only show how well a student took a test one time on one Saturday morning. They do not show how well the student does in their classes or how they have developed their knowledge as they went through high school. It doesn’t measure how well they know a certain topic or how smart they are. The test doesn’t do justice to any student and is an unfair way to measure if someone is suited to be attending a university. The Huffington Post states in regards to this matter, “How you perform day in and day out of the classroom over four years is much more important than how you performed for four hours on a Saturday morning, and admissions officers recognize this.” If the admissions officers understand this then why are test scores still required? Why are they so important that this one test on one day can determine where someone goes to college, something that will impact their entire future, when the scores don’t even give a university the information they need.


Second, What about those people who struggle taking a test but have straight As? Why should they be turned down from a university just because of scores on the SAT and ACT. Schools turn down students because of that one test but maybe they are actually really smart and they are just not strong in test taking. It is automatically assumed that good grades mean good test scores but that isn’t always the case which is apparently frowned upon by admissions officers. PBS says, “Students with good grades and modest testing did better in college than students with higher testing and lower high school grades,” after they ran studies. That being said, universities should not require test scores in the admission process because they will not allow for an accurate prediction of success.


Lastly, take a minute to think. Have you ever wanted something really bad but didn’t even try for it because you knew you weren’t up to the standards? (Metaphor) That’s what happens to many students who have a dream school that requires high test scores. They don’t even apply because they know they won’t get accepted even though they have everything else that is wanted by the university. They aren’t even willing to try because they don’t want to be reminded of how their test scores just weren’t good enough when they get that dreaded letter that essentially says “sorry we are going to pick someone with better test scores.” They put their dreams to rest because of a test score! A test score that doesn’t even show the university who they are as a student or person. The US News shared Ithaca University’s view on the topic which says, “We expect that eliminating standardized tests as a required element of the application would enable us to increase the number of highly qualified applicants to the college, increase the quality of the enrolled freshman class, and increase the diversity of that class.” What is apparently not realized by admissions officers is that by not requiring students to meet a certain standard of test scores, universities will get more qualified applicants that would have otherwise not applied because of test scores.


Some would argue that test scores in the college admissions process are a positive thing. College Board states that taking the SAT can open doors for you, help you get scholarships, and focuses on all the skills needed for college. When taking the SAT there is an option to let schools and companies who provide scholarships contact you. This is one way that the SAT opens doors because it allows you to connect with other schools and learn about them. They also discuss how the skills tested on the SAT will help you in college so by studying them, you will be more prepared (“5 Ways that Admissions Tests Can Help You”). These couple of benefits, however, do not outweigh the stress, unfairness, and tears that requiring the SAT does cause.


Since universities are opposed to eliminating standardized testing all together in the admissions process, instead of requiring students to submit SAT and/or ACT, they should implement a test optional policy. This would allow students to submit their scores only if they felt the scores would help them and they could leave them out if they weren’t good enough. Universities should all consider this policy instead of causing students to start their college stress before their junior year even begins.


Works Cited

“5 Ways That Admission Tests Can Help You.” 5 Ways That Admission Tests Can Help You. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Cohen, Kat. “The Truth About Standardized Tests: How They Affect Your College Application.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Rochon, Thomas. “The Case Against the SAT.” US News. U.S.News & World Report. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Sheffer, Sarah. “Do ACT and SAT Scores Really Matter? New Study Says They Shouldn’t.” PBS. PBS. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.


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