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Do Standardized Tests Tell Whole Story?

Kinjal Jasani

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Students sit at desks, stare at papers, and bubble answers for hours. The room is pin-drop silent. Stopwatches are set for students to complete section after section. Some say that by taking standardized tests, students are showing how capable they are, but does sitting and filling in answers really measure ability?

As high school students prepare to take AP exams, the PARCC,  SATs, and ACTs, many wonder the same thing. Many believe that the tests solely measure  the ability to take the tests. Take the PARCC, for instance. According to the Common Core curriculum, the PARCC exam measures the skills that students should have mastered according to their grade level. But PARCC only measures abilities in language arts and math. What if a student specializes in other subjects, such as social studies or art?  Students still must take a  test that does not reflect their true abilities in these areas.

A survey of a group of Morris Hills students reveals that students perceive that AP tests are more reliable than other standardized tests in terms of measuring ability. AP tests specialize in certain areas, allowing students to test in the subject areas at which they excel. Junior Nikhil Avadhani said, “AP classes range anywhere from Art History to Calculus. Thus, looking at AP Scores can give an accurate understanding of what strengths a student has, in all subjects… However, I believe standardized tests as a whole, especially exams like the SAT, are still ineffective at providing a full understanding of student performance.”

In general, students do not think that performance on standardized tests should  be strongly considered during the college admission process. Instead they said that grades and involvement in extracurricular activities better measure a student’s future performance. Junior Brendon Gu said, “Standardized testing currently doesn’t necessarily reflect a student’s ability. Specialized tests such as AP tests and SAT subject tests are better indicators of success because they are able to test one topic in depth, rather than the general testing often seen on the SAT and PARCC. Additionally, most, if not all, standardized tests are subject to variance in difficulty, and the score curve is sometimes unable to properly account for this between separate tests.” Both of the students’ opinions accurately highlight many of the flaws of today’s standardized tests.

Overall, standardized tests are not very accurate at measuring student potential. A study released by the National Association for College Admission Counseling shows that the difference in grades between students who submitted SAT or ACT scores to colleges and those that did not is five one-hundredths of a point in their first-year college GPAs. So don’t let a score define yourself; you are more than your test scores.

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Do Standardized Tests Tell Whole Story?