(Photo illustration courtesy of Lauren Pak)
Westlake High School

Opinion: Let’s stand against standardized testing

Imagine a scenario where after religiously devoting your entire summer to SAT prep, you finally get that 1500 on a practice test, so you sign up for the SAT on Nov. 2. Despite your past record of mid-1300s, this one score boosts your confidence. Despite missing over 10 questions per section regularly, this gives you a glimmer of hope. 

The dreaded morning comes and you trudge to your test center, thinking about the countless strategies and tricks to utilize during the math section. The proctor blabs about ethics and accomplishments for over an hour and then the time finally starts at 9 a.m.

Reading section done. Not that bad, except for the fiction passage. Writing section done. What a breeze. Math no calculator section done. The grid-ins were hard but everything else was fine. Math calculator section done. Not too bad. 

Your family takes you out to a celebratory lunch for completing such an important milestone. You feel confident and think to yourself “I at least got a 1500.” 

After anxiously waiting for over two weeks you finally get your scores back: a 500 in math and a 560 in english — 1060 overall. 

Your face turns as hot as the sun and your stomach does backflips. You silently cry to yourself in bed knowing your future and all your hard work is down the drain. 

For most of us, junior year is the most stressful year. We’re taking all the APs our counselors allow us to, joining several clubs and meeting those volunteer hours, and on top of all of this, we have to worry about the SAT or ACT, AP tests and subject tests. Having taken SAT prep and the real SAT, I know how annoying standardized tests like these are. Research shows that standardized tests increase anxiety levels to an unhealthy point.

According to The Guardian, in a sample of 145 suicides, 43% of the suicides below the age of 20 dealt with academic pressure before death. And nearly one in three had testing coming up or were waiting for test results. 

Furthermore, standardized testing is corrupt and an unfair measurement of one’s knowledge. For example, if one student can afford months of test prep as opposed to another student who cannot afford such prep, chances are the student who receives additional help will perform better, putting this student at an unfair advantage. 

To make things worse for lower-income students, standardized tests are not cheap: AP tests this year are 105 dollars, if a student plans on taking four AP tests, that’s 420 dollars spent on education, a fundamental right. Not to mention, the question and answer scantron format implies a simplistic way of thinking where something is only right or wrong, which does not apply to the real world as life is not just black and white. 

But if the college board still insists that standardized tests are fair measurements of a student’s intellect, as recorded by Pros & Cons.org a study showed that 50% to 80% of standardized tests caused only temporary improvements, “caused by fluctuations that had nothing to do with long-term changes in learning.”

Yes, standardized test scores can differentiate one another when colleges are accepting millions of students around the world, but colleges must consider admissions essays, cumulative grades, volunteer hours, extracurricular activities. The performance on the SAT or ACT and AP tests should not be the reason why you get deferred or rejected from your dream school, but rather your overall improvement and success throughout your high school years. 

While certain colleges are now disregarding SAT and ACT scores, most of the sought after colleges still require this. While we can’t immediately get rid of standardized testing, there are steps that can be taken to remedy this problem. 

Number 1, have parents email school board members or the college board itself. With a mass of students and parents uniting, it will make it significantly more difficult for this to jeopardize your future.

Number 2, write letters to local legislators and newspapers; while this won’t instantly get rid of standardized testing, it can at least bring awareness to this issue.

Number 3, organize forums with your community and increase publication through social media platforms. 

And number 4, sign petitions on the internet to make your voice heard.

No matter how well or poorly you do on your upcoming standardized tests, just know these tests don’t define you and let’s stand against standardized testing.