Standardized Tests Do Not and Should Not be used to Define a Student's Potential


Standardized Tests Do Not and Should Not be used to Define a Student's Potential. (yes the title may seem boring but please give it a read)

Yes the title may seem boring but please give it a read...

A-C-T. To an American high schooler, those 3 words may seem pretty daunting. In fact, they are. American College Testing, as it stands for, is a standardized test taken by many high schoolers in order to prove their readiness for college.

The fact is, this test really doesn't prove college readiness. On the reading section, students must read 4 500 word passages and answer 40 questions on these in 35 minutes. Thats 2000 words excluding the questions. Not even a literature professor or someone highly skilled in the English language would be able to do this task and answer all questions perfectly. So if this task can't prove proficiency in the English language, then what does it prove?

The only thing this proves is how fast students are capable of reading. But when will people ever need to use speed reading in the real world? For test cramming in college, it may be useful. But does test cramming really get you that far in the end? Not really...

Take me for example. I have a 3.82 GPA, take honours and AP classes, have a part time job, varsity athlete, many volunteer hours, on honour roll...everything a college wants in a student, right? Well not until they see my ACT score...

I ended up scoring above average but not enough to get me into my 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even 5th choices for universities. My GPA and other credentials are exceed what those schools ask but my ACT score doesn't. Many other students are in the same situation as well.

Some background on me: I live in America but was born in Germany. Even though I speak English at home, German was what I spoke until I was 7 and was the language I learned to read in. Transitioning to reading in English was a hard shift and I still am a slow reader today. This showed on the ACT, as I got a 23 on the reading portion.

Other sections of the test also involve the speed at which students can work. Speed doesn't correlate with intelligence. I personally prefer to work slowly, write out all my work and go over it thoroughly before turning it in. Other students may function like that and others not. With that said, the ACT and other standardized tests seem to favor those who work faster which results in a misrepresentation of many student's academic capabilities.

Another issue is that many schools don't teach English grammar and punctuation, including mine. They do tend to focus on other aspects such as vocabulary and literary skills. This also shows on standardized tests as students that haven't learnt the proper mechanics of English typically scored lower on that section. Should a small as well as many times uncontrolable factor have such a large indirect impact on college admissions? I think not.

Perhaps the most disturbing issue can be wealth inequality. And yes, that does impact test scores. Wealthier kids tend to have the TI-84's (the mother of all calculators), private tutors, test prep class, and other important resources that help them score higher. Many lower income parents can't afford these, which results in a score different between wealthier and lower income students. Not to mention taking these tests isn't cheap so wealthier students can afford to take them more if they are unsatisfied with their scores. As said before, is this something that should affect our test scores indirectly?

So back to the title...Due to the fact that every student has their own individual strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, backgrounds, and other variables, standardized tests shouldn't be used as a measuring stick to determine how ready one is for college. It is unfair to those that don't conform to the test, doesn't give accurate readings, and doesn't test a student's true academically capabilities.

Standardized tests are like making a single type of T-shirt for the entire population. Only a small portion of people will fit it but due to varying body types and other factors, most won't.

This is my first myTake so feedback will be appreciated. Also tips and resources for the ACT, as I am retaking it in February. I'd also like to know what you guys think of this. Thanks! =)

Standardized Tests Do Not and Should Not be used to Define a Student's Potential
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