Is Standardized Testing Worth It?

Is Standardized Testing Worth It?

Every incoming junior knows the struggle – the impending doom of school starting, the dread of beginning what is arguably the busiest year of high school. Summer vacation feels less like a break when hours are spent preparing for the SATs and/or ACTs, standardized tests which supposedly prepare high school students for their academic futures in college.

The SAT, or Scholastic Assessment Test, has gone through many revisions over the years. It has also been a source of controversy, as well as a hassle, because it requires additional practice and studying outside of school, as it often contains a wide array of topics unrelated to what educational curriculums require. Parents spend hundreds to thousands of dollars sending their children off to tutoring sessions and classes to prepare for these standardized tests, in hopes that they’ll receive a high score that sets them apart from the thousands of other students applying to their dream schools. But is all of this really worth it?

“I feel like it’s unnecessary,” says Hills junior Becky Litvinsky, who took the ACT in September. “It doesn’t show how you’ll do in college, or later on in life.”

Litvinsky isn’t the only one who feels this way. In fact, many people are against standardized testing for various reasons, the most common reason being how the SAT and the ACT are not an accurate measurements of intelligence, and at the same time, force enormous amounts of unnecessary stress and pressure on students.

People believe, often erroneously, that the SAT and ACT are the biggest factors in determining college acceptance, and if they don’t score well, their futures will be jeopardized. However, while standardized tests are important, many schools across the U.S. have said that they tend to look at other factors, like an applicant’s GPA and extracurricular activities, more than solely focusing on their SAT/ACT scores.

In addition, some universities around the country have become “test-optional” through the years, meaning they do not require the two tests as an admission requirement. One of the many reasons why some schools are getting rid of the test requirement completely is because, not only do they feel standardized testing is not an accurate measure of a student’s intelligence, they do not believe good test scores ensure success in college. In reality, these exams do not really prepare students for the real world.

On top of everything, this is probably the main reason why so many teenagers hate standardized testing: the amount of time and effort it requires. Most people taking the SAT/ACT tests are juniors and seniors who already have to balance heavy loads of AP classes, varsity sports, community service, club leadership positions, college applications, and various others, while preparing for standardized tests at the same time. The tests are lengthy and time consuming – one full SAT runs for about 3 hours, as does the ACT. Therefore, highschoolers are forced to juggle test prep on top of schoolwork and extracurriculars, causing many more stress-induced mental breakdowns.

Recently, I took my first SAT exam after preparing over the summer. My parents signed me up for a prep class that ran for hours – Monday to Thursday was spent doing copious amounts of SAT-related practice problems, and Fridays were for full-length practice tests. Hoping I would be able to finish the testing early on in the year, I went in for the October SAT, wishing that all my time and money I had spent preparing wouldn’t be for nothing. Afterwards, I was skeptical: would I get the score I wanted? Or would everything I had done been in vain?

I’m still waiting on that answer. But after the test, I came to a personal conclusion: standardized tests are annoying, time consuming, and inaccurate, yet we can’t just say, “I don’t care about the SAT, I’ll be fine without it.” Maybe this ties into the overachiever culture I’ve been familiar with for most of my life, especially here at Hills; maybe it’s the fact that we still associate these tests with long-term success, I don’t know. But what I do know is this – we can complain all we want about the SAT and the ACT and how we waste so much time on them, and yet, we can’t break out of the cycle of the standardized test monotony and the false idea that it is what will make or break our college careers. Maybe someday the system will change so that there isn’t as much emphasis on standardized tests, but in the meantime, we can view all of the memes (one of the only positive things to come out of these tests) and, we try to carry on with the essential mindset: the SAT or ACT does not define you.