Maryanna Louisiana

Standardized Tests

Many students are not getting into college because standardized tests are lowering their self-esteem and self-motivation. Colleges look at this one test score and judge a person's intelligence to see whether they want that person or not. What they may not know is that every student tests differently, and some just are not good standardized testers.

Dear Mr. or Madam President:

People are looking at one test score to get into college and using that to determine the intelligence of a person, when everyone tests differently. Everyone in high school is affected by standardized testing in some form, whether it is the ACT, SAT, or the PSAT. It is happening everywhere in America. One side says that standardized tests are a must and should not be removed. Another side says that the tests should be removed completely. I believe that the tests do help colleges pick the right students, but colleges should also look at other scores and overall academic performance.

Colleges look at standardized tests and only want the best students, the ones with the best scores. However, what they do not know is that a student could have a perfect 4.0 GPA in school but not do very well on a standardized test like the ACT. Students know what these tests mean and are vulnerable to self-defeat and depression when they get their scores back and they are not the best. They feel like they are worthless and not smart. Even Albert Einstein once said “Everyone’s a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Some kids just are not good test takers. reported that the reason might be because the tests "cover multiple subjects, are divided into strictly timed sections, and often include misleading questions and answer choices" (Sarikas). Also, the environment the students take the test in is important. Most students go to a university to take a standardized test, and that can be overwhelming. Maybe it is the fact that we know going into the test that our future is riding on this one score. But what is most common, is students' inability to pay attention for that long. The tests are usually a couple of hours and only allow you one break. This can make some students very tired and stressed out. I have experienced this first hand, and it is something that really matters to me. Looking at my grades you would see that I am an honor roll student. When it comes to early morning standardized tests, however, you would think I know nothing. My scores are never where I want them, and that stresses me out even more, making me more nervous for the next test.

According to a website from the American Institute For Learning and Human Development, standardized tests are "strangling" schools. A lot of what goes on in the classroom has something to do with the ACT or other standardized test. Students know the importance of how these tests affect their life and causes them to make bad decisions. According to Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D. Executive Director, "Because students know that test scores may affect their future lives, they do whatever they can to pass them, including cheating and taking performance drugs". The pressure for good scores mentally defeats students. Elaine Cox, M.D. says on U.S. News and World Report that "Increased pressure on students has resulted in more test-taking anxiety". Once you receive your score on the test, you are given no feedback on how to do better, therefore, the only way you can prepare for the next test is by remembering the format of the the previous one. Because I know this, I try to remember as much I can about the test while I am taking it, instead of focusing on how to solve every problem.

Standardized tests also do not value diversity. The English part of the test is of course all in English, but if there is a Hispanic student that does not know the language very well, he is going to struggle more than others. Another problem, is that tests like the ACT evaluate strictly core subjects. Say an artist really wants to get into a school that has a great art program, but because their math or science score was not high enough, they did not get in. This again proves my point that colleges only look at the best scores and only want the best students.

Standardized tests themselves cause immense stress and anxiety, which can lead to serious health problems. I do think that the tests help colleges get an idea about what type of student a person is, but I do not think that they should be the only thing looked at when it comes to one's intelligence. Maybe look at the test scores to see how well a person does under stress and pressure, but look at their grades from school as well. Also, I think the tests should be taken later in the day as well as adding more breaks. I write this letter speaking from personal experience and know that there are plenty of students out there just like me. Standardized tests certainly give an idea about your intelligence, but they should not define it.

- Maryanna

Cedar Creek School

Cedar Creek School

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