The Problem With Standardized Testing

We’ve all been through it.  In the U.S., every high school junior has one thing in common: standardized testing.  Studying for the SATs and ACTs consume their lives for a whole year, and maybe even more if they are ambitious.  On top of AP classes, homework, and extracurricular activities to bedazzle their college resumes, juniors in high school must prepare themselves for the grueling five-hour tests, administered by the monopoly that is the College Board, that ultimately have the power to make or break their chances of being accepted to their dream schools.

There are a multitude of reasons why standardized tests are unfair and inaccurate measurements of student achievement.  How many times have you memorized formulas or facts for an exam, and immediately forgotten them as soon as the exam was over?  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

These exams reward quick answers and do not measure deep or creative thinking.  These tests also do not take into account bias, the test-taker’s mental or emotional state, or any external condition that may affect the test-taker’s performance on the given day.  Standardized tests do not measure your intelligence.  They do not measure how well you did in high school or even how well you are going to do in college.  And they certainly do not measure your happiness or success in life in any way.  These tests simply measure how well you know how to take the test.  So why do colleges all over the U.S. continue use SATs and ACTs as tools to judge their applicants?

The SAT is a scam. It has been around for 50 years. It has never measured anything. And it continues to measure nothing. And the whole game is that everybody who does well on it, is so delighted by their good fortune that they don’t want to attack it. And they are the people in charge. Because of course, the way you get to be in charge is by having high test scores. So it’s this terrific kind of rolling scam that every so often, somebody sort of looks and says—well, you know, does it measure intelligence? No. Does it predict college grades? No. Does it tell you how much you learned in high school? No. Does it predict life happiness or life success in any measure? No. It’s measuring nothing.

John Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review


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