Should Colleges Be Dropping the Standardized Testing Requirement (FACEOFF)
September 17, 2018
When entering high school, and sometimes even before that, students hear about the importance of standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT. These tests seem like some of the most daunting and stressful tasks of high school, because they can make or break your college resume. However, colleges should drop the standardized test requirements.
The cost of taking standardized tests are extremely high. According to the Education Express, costs for taking the SAT alone are $47 per exam and $60 for an exam with an essay. This does not include the online preparation guide for $69.95, individual tutoring for up to $2,900, or any additional costs for important services that the College Board provides. Many students cannot afford these expensive services and it puts them at an extreme disadvantage compared to others. These students may not be able to take the SAT more than a couple of times, and do not have access to some crucial study materials such as individualized tutoring sessions, practice tests, and study books. While there are some fee waivers available for low-income students, there is no fee waiver for tutoring and practice books. Other families that do not qualify for fee waivers simply do not have the financial resources to keep retaking the tests. The standardized test is supposed to be standard for all those who take it, why do some students deal with extreme disadvantages even before they begin the process?
In addition, many students are not very good test takers. They can have a perfect GPA, be the president of their class, love writing and volunteering in their community, but get low scores on their standardized tests whether they have studied intensely or not. This one factor can eliminate their application in a college decision, no matter how hard they have worked to build up their resume. This is not fair to them, because life is not a standardized test. It has unique challenges for each person, and nobody reacts to those challenges the same. Especially in this day and age, colleges preach the need for diverse students with a wide range of different interests and activities. It seems that for some colleges, their diversity begins and ends at financially secure students who excel at taking tests. If all students are bound together by the need to perform well on these tests, universities and colleges may look over the ideal college student because of how they performed on a test in high school.
While some may argue that universities need a common factor to compare students on, these so called “standardized” tests are not the way to do it. The tests change every month, and students have the option to submit their results on one of two completely different exams, the SAT and ACT. This takes away the standard element to the exams, because any particular test may be harder than the next. While GPAs are calculated differently based on the school and county, individual grades cannot receive different calculations. Instead of using tests vastly different from each other to determine a student’s worth, colleges should be using factors of a student such as grades that show their intelligence, activities that show their individual interests, and community service that shows their dedication to their communities.
While the college admissions process can at times feel subjective and unfair, all students can count on one part of the process to be fair and objective: standardized testing. These tests can appear as physically and emotionally draining, but the concept behind it makes perfect sense. Companies such as College Board and ACT take various steps to make sure that testing is affordable and accessible to all students around the nation.
When it comes to the admissions process, grades are one of the most important factors that colleges and universities look at. This makes sense, considering that applicants begin to earn grades from middle school and they usually seem like a good indicator of intelligence and determination. However, the key word here is usually. How can a college take a high school’s word that any particular student is stellar with a 6.0 GPA? At the end of the day, all high schools want their students to get into the best universities. Therefore, nothing stops them from giving completely subjective grades in order to provide their students with the best resumes.
Moreover, the excuse that testing has become expensive no longer seems valid, considering all of the steps that College Board and ACT have taken to make sure that all students have an opportunity to take these exams. For example, any student who qualifies for free and reduced lunch (according to Miami-Dade Public Schools) qualifies for a fee waiver for these exams. As for preparation, different companies have discounted rates for tutoring to ensure that all students get a fair chance to succeed.
In regards to the difficulty of exams, it would be virtually impossible for the test manufacturers to create the same difficulty for every test. That is why a different curve is generated for every test to make sure that all scores reflect the true performance of any given student on that administration day.
Even though not all students are strong test takers, it does not make a difference, considering all of the different factors that play into an admissions decision. That argument might hold true if the standardized test was the only factor, but that just is not the case. Colleges and universities promise a holistic process where they look at not only a students test scores, but also their GPA, extracurriculars and essays.
While some people may not like the process of standardized testing, it serves as the only way for colleges to make sure that all students have a fair and equal chance at an admission. Yes, there may be some students who get amazing grades and just cannot pull off a good SAT or ACT score, but for all of those kids, there exists an equal number who do not have an amazing GPA and standardized testing is their only way to show off their skills. The argument against test scores can be just as easily turned around against the validity of high school grades.