Student’s Perspective: Are Standardized Tests Being Taken Too Seriously?

Do scores define you? To many, including admissions officers, they do. It’s almost the end of the school year.

It’s the time when most high school seniors rush to get their college applications done and take standardized tests of many types if they choose to continue and go to college after graduation. These tests they take help contribute to the growing depression in them thanks to the expectations from their parents and the pressure from their peers. This had eventually led many to have suicidal thoughts. As a huge problem worldwide nowadays, we should try to take standardized tests less seriously. “A standardized test is any form of test that (1) requires all test takers to answer the same questions, or a selection of questions from common bank of questions, in the same way, and that (2) is scored in a “standard” or consistent manner, which makes it possible to compare the relative performance of individual students or groups of students.” (Concepts) Different schools/systems deliver different tests; however, most standardized tests have the same purpose: to measure your performance and to compare them to the rest of the world.

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They do not tell you anything about how good of a leader you are, how good you are at playing the piano or how talented you are as a ballerina. In theory, they only tell you how well you did on the test on that exact day. You might have had the flu on that designated day, or you might have had a stomachache during the test which would negatively influence your score. There are also millions of other factors that may affect the score you got; however, the test markers would not know about this. If you’re an athlete, you would do well on fitness tests while you might not do so well on a literature test.

If you are an aspiring scientist, certain tests in the field of science would be a piece of cake. Academic tests cannot measure everything. As the scores that you got were not to be taken lightly, your parents might put you under more pressure by signing you up for study sessions or extra classes in hopes of raising your scores. The pressure, in many ways, contributes to the growing stress received from your school. The stress could be overwhelming at some point, forcing many to take the easy exit. According to NPR, the suicide rate among young adults had been rapidly rising.

In 2014, a total of 425 kids from the age of 10 to 14 committed suicide. Compared to the number of deaths in 2007, 2014 doubled that number. (Nadworny) “Self-harm seems to be a growing problem. In my first 30 years of teaching, I was aware of only one case. In the last eight years, there have been at least 10 cases.

The youngest pupil I know is 14 years old,” said a secondary school teacher. (Lipsett) These scores, of course, still have a use. Though it doesn’t say much, it is widely used by different schools and colleges as a piece of information on how good of a student you are compared to others. Theoretically, those tests were supposed to tell you that, after all. Nonetheless, having the perfect SAT scores will not guarantee you being admitted to prestigious schools like Yale. As far as I know, fighting for a spot at a renowned college is harder than fighting in the Hunger Games.

Given the 5 or 10% acceptance rate, the possibility of a senior being accepted into these schools is almost impossible. (CollegeSimply) The tests can be considered as the initial bloodbath, the first step towards getting the admission officers to admit you. However, if you have the potential, then there might be a thin chance of you getting in. In order to apply for a spot at amazing colleges like Harvard, University of Chicago and Stanford, you will need to have a stellar GPA and an equally stellar standardized test score. Apparently, most admission officers would not even look at your application twice if you’ve flunked your SATs or gotten a 2.

0 GPA unless you are applying for community college or some other non-prestigious colleges. Not having the perfect SAT scores is going to hurt the way the officer sees you as a potential candidate. They might not even consider reading through your application at all. It’s not exactly reassuring to know that the students in the 75th percentile of colleges like Princeton and Harvard got the perfect score on their SATs and ACTs. Students in Yale, Caltech, and UChicago in the 75th percentile of their college follow by with averages of 2390/2400. (Lele) Even if you happen to score perfectly on your SATs, you would still need to have an incredible GPA and a killer essay.

Despite knowing about this, many parents have misunderstood the concept. Some gave their kids an extremely hard time after hearing about their low scores. This brings me to my original point. We take standardized testing way too seriously nowadays. From certain tests that were only meant to measure your academic performance to rigorous tests for seniors, we take the grades we get way too harshly.

As a somewhat high achieving student, my parents have always had high expectations for me. I am supposed to get good grades. I am supposed to excel in tests. I am supposed to be better than the average student. This had made me toss and turn countless times on sleepless nights. Eventually, these tests have become a standard.

Overachievers in class are expected to get high scores while the expectations for the average students were lower. These tests do not guarantee your success. They do not define you in any way possible. They do not guarantee you a good future. Don’t let the results tell you otherwise. Is it worth it? Is it worth the effort, the stress, the depression, and the deaths it causes? After all, the scores are just combinations of numbers.

Maybe we should eliminate the entire process in general. Now is as good of a time as any to stop making the standardized tests a standard. Stop.