Standardized Tests Conceal More than Reveal

Coming to school everyday, I hear the seniors and juniors stressing out because the ACT or the SAT is around the corner. Test booklets are laying around, tutors are helping in libraries, and students are studying countless hours. Even the freshman are worried about these tests! For high school students the ACT and the SAT are one of the most important tests for college admission and scholarships. While most colleges require standardized test scores, they are not the most effective way to enroll and predict the success of students.

High school grades and extracurriculars are worth more than standardized test scores for possible college applicants. According to surveys by the National Association for College Admissions Counselors in Arlington Va, the “SAT and [the] ACT scores have consistently ranked third in importance, behind grades and strength of curriculum” (Adams). Colleges should encourage students to focus more on school work, sports, volunteering, and jobs more than studying for the ACT/SAT because the ACT/SAT does not prepare or help students in college. Others will say that “teaching to the test” makes students “focus on essential content and skills” therefore, it eliminates time consuming activities (“Is the Use of Standardized Tests Improving Education in America”). However, as Gerald R. Bracey -an education researcher- stated that standardized test scores lack measures of “creativity, critical thinking, motivation, endurance, leadership” and much more. (“Is the Use of Standardized Tests Improving Education in America”). These qualities are most important to determine potential successful college students than a single test score.     

The ACT and the SAT are in favor of upper middle class students and puts a disadvantage on lower income students. Ultimate high scores directly correlates with higher family income and education. If students come from an upper middle class family, the students “will naturally acquire the information” for the ACT and the SAT (Murray). These students are able to “take expensive prep courses and arrange for private tutoring designed to boost scores” (“The SAT Isn’t the Problem”). Students with lower income are not able to afford these privileges, and cannot take the ACT/SAT multiple times due to the high price. Ultimately, students with higher test scores, who may have received additional help, will be qualified for scholarship money. Students with low income need scholarship money, more so than high income students. Opposers claim that “standardized test scores are inclusive and non-discriminatory because they ensure” that the test is equal for students (“Is the Use of Standardized Tests Improving Education in America”). Even if it is an equal test for all students, studies show that “lower income students, as well as black and Latino students, consistently score below privileged white and Asian students” (Rooks). Mitch Kapor, a founder of Lotus Software and co-writer of The San Francisco Chronicle, suggested that: “colleges should require mandatory disclosure by students and parents of each and every form of purchased help” for the ACT/SAT  “as a way to level the playing field” (Balf). By doing this, colleges are able to identify students that have obtained paid help and compare scores with students who are unable to pay such expenses, in order to enroll students equitable.

Colleges that do require test scores should reconsider their standardized test requirements to adequately enroll students. The SAT and the ACT are not the most important evidence of college readiness and they are not the most convincing way to predict college success. A composition score does not display the essential skills of college readiness, instead the score conceals more than what is revealed.

Works Cited

Adams, Caralee J. “Value of Test-Prep Courses for College Admission Unclear,” Education Week. 02 Mar. 2011: 10-11. SIRS Issues Researcher. Accessed 6 Nov. 2016.

Balf, Todd. “The Story Behind the SAT Overhaul,” New York Times Magazine.09 Mar. 2014: 26+. SIRS Issue Researcher. Accessed. 6 Nov. 2016.

“Is the Use of Standardized Tests Improving Education in America.” Santa Monica,, 2016. Accessed 6 Nov. 2016

Murray, Charles. “Abolish the SAT.” The American. July/Aug.2007: 33+. SIRS Issue Researcher. Accessed. 6 Nov. 2016.

Rooks, Noliwe M. Why It’s Time to Get Rid of Standardized Tests. New York City, TIME, 2012. Accessed 7 Nov. 2016.

“The SAT Isn’t the Problem. It’s How the Exam is Used.” USA TODAY. 12 Mar. 2014: A.10. SIRS Issues Researcher. Accessed. 6 Nov. 2016.

Photo Credit

“The Debate Over Standardized Tests.” New York City, Brooklyn Bridge Tutors. Accessed 9 Nov. 2016


CC BY-SA 4.0 Standardized Tests Conceal More than Reveal by Blerta is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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