Standardized tests scores inaccurately represent students

Staff Editorial

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Across America, thousands of students are constantly scrambling to achieve a noteworthy SAT or ACT score – one that will hopefully open doors to their dream colleges. Though the SAT and ACT may be able to show college admissions officers the superb academic skills of a student, they are not wholly reflective of a student’s capabilities. That being said, they should not carry such a heavy weight when determining whether or not a student will succeed in college.  

Proponents of standardized testing argue that it is an efficient method for universities to determine which high school students will succeed in college. A study published by the American Enterprise Institute has shown, on the contrary, that GPAs have a stronger correlation towards college success rather than an SAT/ACT score.  

Achieving a high score on either the SAT or ACT usually requires hours of studying that take away time from regular courses. Many students are also involved with extracurricular activities which already eat away at valuable time. Dedicating extra hours to studying for standardized tests only adds unnecessary stress and distracts students from studying for their classes.  

Scoring for standardized tests, in contrast to their name, is anything but standard. If more students answer correctly on a test, more points are taken off for each wrong answer they get.  

This process is called “equating” and was exemplified in the results of the infamous June 2018 SAT, where hundreds of points were deducted for missing a single question. Though some students had more correct answers, their overall score was lower than the previous SAT where they had missed more questions.  

According to Prep Scholar, a website that offers tutoring for the SAT/ACT, students from low-income families are at a disadvantage compared to their peers whose guardians earn a higher income. Because students of higher-income families can afford costly tutoring, they have a better chance to improve their score.  

In fact, taking the test itself is costly. Plenty of fees are attached to taking the SAT/ACT, from registration costs to late fees. Though about $60 may not seem like much initially, re-taking the test multiple times will eventually add up.   

Once again, the bias of standardized testing is apparent: students who want to increase their score by taking the test multiple times can do so if they can pay for it. The students who do not have that luxury are stuck with less opportunities to raise their score.  

Ignoring SAT/ACT scores is nothing new as more colleges embark on this path. For example, at the University of Chicago, taking either the SAT or ACT is optional to apply.  

Instead of emphasizing the importance of standardized test scores, more colleges should see the value in judging a student by their character as proven by their resume, essay and GPA. By discounting the SAT/ACT, we will create a leveled playing field for all American students. 

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