It’s that time of the year. Senior high school students are finalizing their journey at their current institution and are preparing to move on to the next stage of their life, college. High school seniors, me being one of them, have spent countless hours and lots of money on things like application fees, transcripts, and especially standardized test scores. If you ask most seniors, the most stressful part of applying for college is the standardized testing. Many students think that the ACT and SAT are the only thing that defines them as an individual; the score that will set them over the top and make them worthy of acceptance. But in recent years, students, and more shockingly parents of students, have been caught cheating on exams to boost their scores to get them into more competitive schools. So with anxiety and cheating levels on the rise for highschool students, why do colleges still look at standardized test scores?
The true purpose of the ACT and SAT, as said by the College Board, is to level the playing field for students that come from diverse backgrounds. Grades have been on the rise in the last couple of years, so the goal of standardized testing is to truly measure a student’s mastery of the course material that they retained from highschool. On the flip side, lots of students, parents, and even college admission boards believe that standardized testing shows bias and are over used when weighing your admission to a university. Students can take the test as many times as they would like. Seems perfectly fine right? Wrong. Each test costs anywhere between 45-60 dollars alone without a registration fee. Students that don’t have the financial ability to take the test 5 and 6 times are left with little to no wiggle room for improvement. Many wealthy families on top of paying for the test will hire a tutor, people guaranteed to make their scores go higher if you pay a lot of extra cash. Unless you are a super genius or wealthy, the standardized testing system is stacked against you.
In the last couple of years, standardized testing scandals have emerged from under our noses. Rich families have been found cheating their children into incredible scores thanks to Operation Varsity Blues. According to the NY Times, Operation Varsity Blues was an undercover investigation that led to the charging of 50 cheating cases on standardized tests. Cheating may not seem that easy, but if you have the money and the power, it’s a lot easier to get that perfect score. Many students will hire other classmates to take the exam for them, a more risky form of cheating. To fix the issue of getting caught, parents will help students create fake IDs to give to their false child on test day. Parents will also bribe the proctors on test days to give their kid more time. I think the worst way of cheating by parents and students, is to claim a false disability to allow for more time in a more private setting. This ruins taking the test for people with actual disorders like anxiety or a learning disability because it leads to discrimination against students with disabilites.
Many schools have tried to combat this inequality by making their institutions “Test Optional” to make the students themselves shine rather than a test score. But schools and standardized test companies are still a long ways away from preventing these cheating scandals and bridging the gap of inequality.Tags: Cheating college admissions Judge Memorial Catholic High School Standardized Tests