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The Return of Standardized Testing Isn’t a Welcome Answer

By Celeste Arbelaez

Standardized testing was suspended by many colleges and universities during the pandemic of 2020 and now some are bringing it back as a requirement in their admissions process. The decision to either go test-optional or eliminate testing overall has helped to give a lot of students a better chance at being accepted into college. But because some institutions believe that these tests will help them determine which students are academically gifted and talented, they have been brought back.

This idea of testing high school students dates back to 1926 when the first SATs were presented to American schools. Those who created the SAT thought that this would help identify students who were in school who were ahead of the curve, ultimately helping many. The ACT came into play in the late 1950s with the same idea of identifying gifted students. This remained crucial in college admissions and became part of the system.

Since the SATs and ACTs began, there has been a long history of biases and cheating as well. Tiffany Wong, a sophomore and early childhood education major with a concentration in mathematics and a minor in business, spoke on this.

“I think the SATs are very stupid and rigged because if you come from a rich school, there is a more likely chance that they have better resources to do better on the SAT compared to a poor school with a lack of resources,” she said. “You can also just pay people to take the SAT, which has happened before.”

Even though students can be academically gifted, if they come from a low-income school, they might not have as many resources to help them succeed with testing. Not to mention the fact that cheating is very common in standardized tests, especially with the scandal that occurred a few years ago with celebrities paying an independent college counselor Rick Singer to help their children get into college. This scandal became known as the Varsity Blues Scandal and there was a lot of related media coverage. There was even a Netflix documentary, “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal.” This took away the opportunities of other students who studied hard and did not have the money to pay for tutoring. It was unjust to those students who deserved a spot in many institutions.

It should be noted that standardized testing only measures mathematical and English skills. The SAT and ACT measure a student’s intelligence based on their memory and that contributes to whether or not a student is given a better education. It is not fair to let a piece of paper decide such a fate. More Panthers had a lot to say about this.

Lauren Gunn, a senior psychology major who took the SAT in high school, said, “I was someone that was very involved in high school and in the top 20 of my class, and the results were not showing my full intelligence. The SAT bases it on reading comprehension and math.”

Even if someone is a good student in high school, it won’t be seen in standardized tests if a student doesn’t perform well. Those results won’t show the potential a student has and can undermine their hard work in high school since SATs and ACTs are some of the main sources colleges used to admit students into in the past. But things have changed since the pandemic, making more institutions reconsider their requirements and making more colleges test-optional.

Angelina Vella, a senior communications major, used her SAT score for admissions to colleges. “I think they don’t tell you anything about a person’s intelligence,” she said. “I think that because people could have test anxiety and a single test can’t possibly say if a person is intelligent or not.”

These tests do not measure other types of intellect students have such as emotional intelligence, history, art and so on. The arts are put to the side and anything that does not relate to numbers or grammar is put on the back burner and not even considered. It is looked down upon. Standardized testing devalues other types of subjects that don’t involve numeric value.

“Standardized testing is also useless like the SATs,” Wong said. “These types of tests force students to memorize information which does not demonstrate how smart a student is. Students also do not have fun memorizing information and this can be a reason why students are not engaged in class.”

In addition, there is a psychological theory about intelligence and the different types people may have depending on their upbringing and surroundings. This theory is called the Multiple Intelligences, and according to the American psychologist Howard Gardner, there are eight types. But everyone is different when it comes to showcasing their intelligence and strengths. For example, there is interpersonal intelligence — meaning personally understanding people and social situations — which is not tested on standardized testing. This showcases that the SATs and ACTs are not fit to test a student's intelligence.

Many people have some interesting takes on the SATs and the effect it has on people but at the end of the day, most students conclude that standardized testing is unnecessary and shouldn’t be the main factor when it comes to college admissions. Institutions need to take into consideration that these tests are mainly just making students memorize information and they should be looking into other factors when seeking future alumni like their GPA, extracurricular activities and part-time jobs. How students get involved in their community should also be a factor to consider. These other components are just as significant if not more than standardized test results.

Institutions should be test-optional instead of enforcing these unfair testing policies that do more harm than good.

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