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Uncovering the Hidden Truth of Standardized Testing

As COVID-19 continues to negatively impact every aspect of society, some colleges made standardized testing optional. After many technical problems that occurred during CollegeBoard’s Advanced Placement Examination last May, the organization announced that they will not offer the SAT at home.

With a competitive applicant pool every year, students typically place their maximum efforts to garner the highest score they can attain in standardized tests. However, top colleges, such as Harvard and Yale, made standardized examinations optional for the Class of 2025 at least. They will reinstate the SAT or ACT requirement for the Class of 2026. Students are worried that if they do not take the test, they will not be perceived as competitive during college admissions.

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The main purpose of standardized tests is to gauge the educational progress of students. Having one systemized exam with the same set of questions and a regulated time seems fair. According to Forbes, however, socioeconomic and racial biases occur in regard to achieving high scores. Affluent white students typically perform better than poorer students.

According to The Notebook, African Americans and Latinos score below average on standardized tests. As a result, they are not certain whether attending college will be an option. Living in underfunded communities is linked to having less educational resources in public schools. Students in those areas, unfortunately, do not have access to test centers or private coaches.

One of the biggest critiques of standardized tests lies in the multiple-choice system. It is common knowledge that every student learns in different methods—auditory, visual, logical, or kinetic. Assessing students in only one format can limit those who excel in various types of examinations. One might be a superb essay writer or a remarkable orator, yet their skills wouldn’t be exemplified in a one-day multiple-choice exam. An essay portion is optional, but it does not affect one’s overall score. The main bulk of the SAT relies on the multiple-choice section.

Education exists to sharpen an individual’s expertise and to gain knowledge to execute tasks in the workplace. A multiple-choice exam rejects the self-determination theory because corporations are measuring the intelligence of students with the same standards. Albert Einstein once said, “But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Every individual has their own spike or extraordinary talent—whether it’d be in the arts, humanities, social sciences, or STEM. Some people excel in a motley of areas, but many only triumph in one to two areas.

There were instances in which colleges accepted students who were below their average scores because of impressive achievements. These occurrences prove that universities consider every aspect of an applicant’s achievements in a holistic view. Proponents of standardized testing perceive the examination as an equalizer, but one test should not indicate the future of an individual. Some students who excel during the SAT do not perform well in classrooms and vice versa.

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Colleges, however, have a point in implementing standardized tests. Since they are economic institutions, they hope to accept students of high caliber because they typically contribute to society. In addition, some high schools are easier compared to others. Thus, having a standardized test would be a fair assessment.

However, it is vital for institutions to recognize the limitations of standardized testing, especially when they are analyzing results. It is imperative to realize that such examinations can be used in order to determine the classes that students will be placed in. In addition, students who need aid in a subject can be identified—allowing teachers to customize their learning experience.

The hard reality is that standardized testing is a money-making business that prevents low-income students from portraying their full potential. Many colleges require students to take the SAT test, the SAT subject tests, and the AP exams. The majority of minorities cannot afford to pay those expenses. When an individual opts to not take those exams, they are not perceived as ambitious students. This is a major problem because an individual will feel worthless and their drive to succeed will diminish.

Colleges making their standardized tests optional for the Class of 2025 can benefit many students who excel in different expertise, to those who are not test-takers and most importantly, to students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. A student should never be solely assessed by numbers but from a holistic perspective.

Here is a list of colleges that are test-optional.

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