Standardized tests do not capture students’ skills, should be eliminated


Emma Shek

Staff Writer Yahya Ibrahimi writes that standardized tests should no longer be offered as they are unfair, expensive and create undue stress on students.

Yahya Ibrahimi, Staff Writer

Standardized testing has long been used to maintain some adequacy in our education system, but our skills and knowledge cannot be determined by doing a test in a certain amount of time. Learning encompasses many different aspects and every student learns differently. Standardized tests mainly determine which students are good at taking tests, providing no actual measure of an individual’s progress or student performance.

We should eliminate state and college-required standardized testing altogether. It is neither a necessary nor a practical way to measure a student’s capabilities and there are other ways to evaluate students without using a test as a medium. 

The SAT and ACT have historically been requirements for many colleges and are a major component to students’ future careers. While many colleges have waived the SAT and ACT requirements for the upcoming 2021 fall semester, it really amplifies the question of whether standardized testing should be a requirement at all.

 One of the most problematic aspects of a standardized test is the intense stress and dread that many students experience when it comes to testing, leading them to not do as well because of test-taking anxiety or pressure. Students know that taking these tests could shape the rest of their future, which puts a lot of pressure on them to test well. As a result of the stress and anxiety, the test scores may not truly reflect their abilities. 

Scoring well on these standardized tests has become equated with having a good future in most students’ minds, and scoring badly on the test can greatly affect a students’ confidence. When students feel they haven’t performed well on their tests, they can feel dejected and become overwhelmed with trying to compensate for testing badly. Truly, how can a 4-hour multiple-choice test show your potential in the REAL world which is not made of multiple-choice exams? 

Along with these required tests comes a hefty fee. While many families can afford to pay for the test (or in the case of certain A-list celebrities, cheat their way through it), a lot of families in the U.S. and even in our community can’t afford to pay the $50-70 fee for each test, let alone retaking it like many students do. Low-income families struggle to pay for the tests to apply for college, let alone college applications and more importantly college itself. Wealthier students are able to afford expensive test-preparation services, giving them a huge advantage over other students. Clearly, standardized tests do not equate to a level playing field as they’re meant to.

Now that COVID has reduced testing opportunities, many colleges are now test-optional, saving many families a lot of money and students a lot of stress; however, stopping testing for one semester isn’t going to solve the problem. 

When standardized tests become a part of a state’s curriculum, such as the MCAS in our state, it starts to impact teachers’ ability to teach as well. Educators become focused on preparing students solely for their tests, which ultimately affects students’ ability to learn. Both students and teachers start to worry about the “upcoming exam” rather than doing more engaging and interesting activities.

Do you think standardized testing should be completely eliminated?

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Using one test to seal the fate of an individual’s potential and future is unrealistic, hugely inaccurate and completely unfair. Standardized tests should be eliminated completely, and more colleges should become test-optional in their application process and states should NOT make it a requirement for graduation. If there is a form of standardized testing, unlike the current SAT, which is completely question-based, it should be redesigned to truly encompass students’ abilities. Using means such as game-based assessments or portfolio-based assessments would save time, reduce testing anxiety and ultimately provide for a complete evaluation of an individual’s preparedness. 

Standardized testing shouldn’t be so “standardized” anymore. Every person learns and applies that information differently. Just like Michelle Obama said, “If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.”