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Opinion: There’s nothing intelligent about test taking

Tests are used to determine a large percentage of students’ grades, and they are often also used to measure intelligence. However, test-taking skills and intelligence are two separate things that do not have much correlation.

Test-taking skills consist of problem solving, working well under pressure and good reasoning. On the other hand, intelligence is measured by the ability to absorb, understand and use knowledge. While intelligence can contribute to good test-taking, students cannot purely rely on intelligence to do well on tests.

Some students may be intelligent, but struggle to perform well under pressure. Others may not have the type of reasoning that helps many succeed on multiple choice exams.

In my high school experience, I have been taught far more reasoning skills than actual learning skills. While Common Core standards have decreased the amount of multiple choice exams, important tests like the SAT and ACT are mostly multiple choice. In the case of multiple choice exams, intelligence cannot guarantee success.

Some may say that some intelligence is necessary to do well on tests, but students who do not know or understand the material are still able to do well if they have good test-taking skills. With the process of elimination and logic, students may be able to excel without having renewed or understood the material.

In other cases, test-taking consists of simple memorization. Often, someone who is able to memorize words without understanding concepts is able to do better than someone who understands the concepts and can apply them to daily life.

Sometimes, test-taking is based on the ability to follow directions correctly. An error in reading or interpreting the instructions can lead to downfall and misconvey the student’s true abilities.

Tests cannot determine a student’s intelligence. They may reveal a student’s study habits or logic, but they do not accurately represent intellect. Test scores can be affected by many factors, including sleep, eating habits, confidence and stress level. If anything, intelligence is one of the least important factors in test-taking.

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