Standardized testing for college is a long standing tradition that leaves high school upperclassmen worrying every year. The SAT and ACT’s long duration, numerous questions, and ability to cause stress have even led hundreds of universities across the United States to extend their test optional policies adopted as a result of covid-19 to be permanent measures or have outright done away with the tests.
However, as we see it, these tests are still relevant and necessary.
We first need to look back at the primary reason tests like the SAT exist in the first place. The SAT isn’t a placement test or a test on advanced topics, but conversely contains common grammar concepts found in most simple writing or reading and basic algebra concepts or graph reading abilities.
We find ourselves using many of these skills, namely small doses of Algebra, in daily life to calculate how much of something we need or what a number of minutes is. Cross multiplication, for example, is something we use frequently to calculate a number of minutes travel will take or how much a certain number of something will cost.
The problems are not excessively difficult to solve. Instead, the challenging aspect of the test is the limited time.
It is absolutely important that colleges use some type of standardized test in admissions decisions, and while one test obviously should not be the only factor, colleges need to be able to identify which students are capable of doing basic math and understanding basic reading concepts.
It should also be said that SAT and ACT tests hold students and teachers accountable, as they are obligated to practice and tune up these skills rather than throw them away.
Another benefit to standardized testing is that it is unbiased and offsets factors that may affect students’ grades and GPA. The SAT, for example, is now fine without any sort of writing portion. It is graded by a machine, and because the entirety of the test is graded this way, there is no chance of graders’ judgement tainting results.
The SAT shows us the straight facts of where each student is. It also can predict college success.
While not all data is clear, many studies have been able to show that test scores are linked to college GPAs. There is also data which determines that test scores are an indicator of IQ range.
When colleges look at test scores, they therefore receive valuable information about a student’s potential success at their school. Thus, we believe it is incredibly valid for schools to desire this information for admissions decisions.
Finally, the tests provide colleges with a common benchmark for all students. High schools across the country offer different rigor of curriculum and students’ grades may vary from school to school based on what is offered to them there.
Standardized tests give colleges and universities a clear measure of where students stand and provide every student with common ground to be compared on.
The SAT is not something we feel we should take away soon because it is such a valuable evaluation piece in this way, as well as the fact that the test’s basic skills will never lose their importance during any future work that students may complete.