Standardized Tests: Friend or Foe?
So it's March of my senior year of high school. I am done with the jumping through hoops and busing my little heiney in gear to apply to college. I am done wakingup early on Saturdays to take the ACT at some foreign school. I am done writing essays about my qualities and my experiences. I'm even done worrying about that perfect GPA and stressing over A- grades. Yes, it's true, I've been admitted, and it feels so good! But after all this hoop-lah, there is one thing I really want to know: what's with these who standardized test deals?
We all saw the movie The Perfect Score where college-bound seniors are freaking out about passing the SAT so that they can all get into their dream schools. I thought that movie was a little silly and pretty unrealistic when I saw it. They did in fact break into the national SAT building, hack the computers, and take the answers. But, when I think about it now, the plan doesn't seem too far-fetched.
As an average test-taker and a right-brain thinker, I am calling BS! I don't think that those tests are fair. For example, I have worked my little behind off for four years while doing hours upon hours of extra curricular activities and having a job. And I think my GPA is pretty decent. Contrasting slightly, I know a girl who has not tried at all during high school but (as she puts it) "tests smarter than she actually is." Therefore, her admittance into college seems more likely and those same colleges are offering her bug bucks.
Over the summer, I read a book that described the tests as rather left-brained, and that those who think very right-brained won't do as well. Some researches are creating tests that would, for example, give you a comic from The New Yorker and you would have to come up with a clever caption. Now THAT is something I could ace!
I just don't think that one 3 hour test should be weighed so heavily in the college process because, at lest for me, one and a half of those hours were worrying about whether my extra number two pencils were sharp enough and if I had enough erasing power for all four sections.
Just chew on this for a moment:
The NACAC report makes no specific charges but claims that a “‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for the use of standardized tests in undergraduate admission does not reflect the realities facing the nation’s colleges and universities.”
The authors encourage “institutions to consider dropping the admission test requirements if it is determined that the predictive utility of the test or the admission policies of the institution (such as open access) support that decision and if the institution believes that standardized test results would not be necessary for other reasons such as course placement, advising, or research” (italics retained).
This tortured qualification provides further permission to the growing number of schools making the SAT optional for purposes of college admission. While admissions professionals promote test optional policies as beneficial to students, schools also enjoy their benefits. By 2007, 28 of U.S. News and World Report’s top 100 liberal arts colleges had become test-optional.
YES! Great news. The optional feature is something students like me deserve. But there is a downside, my friend.
SAT scores for non-submitters are 100-150 points lower than submitters; therefore eliminating those scores for 25 percent to 50 percent of enrolling students increases the institution’s average SAT score between 25 and 75 points.”
The higher average SAT score helps inch the school up in the highly competitive US News & World Report rankings. But Epstein worries that such inflated scores may discourage qualified students from applying. He further notes that the practice “may completely disorient prospective students and families” and concludes that such disorientation in the market “is not in the best interests of any institution or higher education in general.”
It seems to me that no matter what you do, test scores are an extra stress point that frankly, I don't want to deal with. If I don't get into some of my schools because of my low score - after the hours upon hours I have invested into my high school experience - I guess the first question will be: is all that effort really worth it in the long run?
I guess that's up to you to decide.