Standardized testing produces standardized students

It is the month of April and standardized testing is all the buzz. Juniors find themselves stressing to increase their scores, while seniors sit back and sympathize with their worries. Our society has created a culture that puts a single test in the hands of your future. The two common standardized tests, the ACT and SAT, have been the recurring nightmare for students because it’s said that the score you get on those exams can determine where you end up going to college. According to, more than 33 percent of US elementary and secondary students experience some test anxiety,
up from 10-25 percent in past decades.

These tests are supposed to be gauging college readiness, but instead, they have turned into their own industry at the cost of student education.

After taking your first ACT or SAT, students may not be pleased with their score, so it is common for parents to sign up their kids for tutoring. This tutoring class now takes time out of your day, where you could be learning something else, and teaches you things you should have already learned. It’s also interesting because these classes or tutoring sessions consist of testing strategies or practice tests, so what are you really getting out of them besides finding shortcuts? The whole point of a standardized test is to see what information you know but all of the extra prep takes away from that.

The main issue with the ACT and SAT is that they both are used for ranking students instead of measuring what they know. Both tests are structured similarly since they both are related to subjects. Specifically, the ACT has the subjects English, Math, Reading, and Science with an optional writing portion. The SAT does not differ much with the sections of Reading, Writing and Language, Math no calculator, Math with the calculator, and an optional essay. Both are timed tests, so that puts additional stress on the students to not only answer correctly, but time manage. The SAT (non-writing) takes a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes with breaks while the ACT (non-writing) takes 3 hours and 30 minutes. The highest score on the ACT is a 36 and 1600 for the SAT. Often students find themselves trying to get the highest score because colleges have requirements on test scores in order to receive scholarships or simply be accepted into the college. This culture has had students focused so much on a number that it is taking away from the comprehension aspect of education.

So, if these tests are as bad as everyone says they are, then what is an alternative? On some college applications, instead of submitting a standardized test, there is a new option that includes a portfolio. This option would only be beneficial for a college application if you are someone who has a high GPA and low test scores, test anxiety, or excel in one specific subject. These applications are still highly competitive with the portfolio option because colleges are looking more into extracurriculars and teacher recommendations in order to see what kind of student you are. Now, not many colleges have this option yet so it’s important to make sure to research the college of choice and the different requirements before completely giving up on standardized testing.