Students respond to criticism of SAT, other tests

Photo courtesy of @benmullins

With the Pre ACT and Pre SAT having happened so recently, now seems like the perfect time to discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of standardized testing. It is commonly known that colleges focus largely on standardized testing scores for admissions, but, is that a fair and reasonable practice? With so much emphasis placed on these tests, it is important to ask the question, are they really valid measures of intelligence and understanding of content?

One thing that people seem to find specific fault with is the time limit. 

“They make you rush through problems that you should otherwise be able to look through and complete. It prioritizes guessing, even in questions that you may know how to do,” said Milo Davis, a CHS sophomore. 

He also opposed the emphasis put on these tests.

 “Standardized tests aren’t an accurate measure of intelligence and therefore colleges should not focus so heavily on them,” said Davis.

It seems that many disagree with how accurate the test is.

“It is not an accurate measure of somebody’s intelligence because people learn in different ways and people have to demonstrate their learning in different ways,” said another CHS sophomore Evan Alfieri.

Overwhelmingly, students seem to oppose standardized tests. According to a 2014 Harvard study, 83 percent of students cite them as a source of stress. And it is not just students. A 2015 Gallup poll also found that 67 percent of parents opposed standardized tests with just 14 percent supporting them.

Many make the argument that standardized testing discriminates against students with disadvantaged backgrounds.

“[The SAT] is a more reliable predictor of demographics than it is of academic performance. [Whereas] High school grades reflect years of effort and are a more reliable assessment of college potential than test scores,” said Joseph Soares, a sociology professor at Wake Forest University, in a 2015 essay.

However, some people argue that standardized testing is necessary and is useful to colleges for admissions processes. 

 “Blaming a test…for inequality is like blaming a thermometer because a room is hot,” said Jack Buckley, a top official for the American Institute for Research.

Some students do understand the reasoning behind the tests, despite disliking them.

 “I understand why they use them because it is very difficult to measure objectively someone’s intelligence, so they have to take anything they can get,” said Alfieri.

He also provided some support for the time limits.

 “If you understand the content you should be able to get it right away and if you don’t then you just won’t,” said Alfieri.

While college admissions tests may be here to stay for now, it seems as though they’re on their way out the door. Nearly 40 percent of colleges offering four year degrees don’t require test scores according to Soares. It seems likely that with all of the opposition, at some point in the near future they will be done away with.

Owen Moore is a Sophomore at Carrboro High School. He enjoys carpentry, biking, hunting and camping. Procrastination is a passion of his.
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