Wiley: Standarized tests a necessary, biased evil
Published: Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 00:10
Most likely, you had to take some sort of standardized test to be where you are today at Sam Houston State University. Whether it be SAT, ACT, THEA or any other of those ambiguous abbreviated examinations, these tests are supposed to measure your intelligence and give colleges a good idea of how you’re going to do in college.
But one has to wonder, do these exams truly reflect our ability to do well in school? What if we had a really bad day when we took the exam? What if we had horrible test anxiety? I believe these factors come in to play and show how standardized tests are bias to certain groups of individuals.
Standardized tests are supposed to represent what you have learned throughout high school and are a good indicator of your learning skills. However, you cannot measure each and every person on the same scale.
Like the famous quote from Albert Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Some information is tailored to a certain type of audience and the people that are not in that audience cannot be completely qualified to answer the questions.
It is believed that standardized tests have a culture and language bias. If a question is asking about something that is unfamiliar in your culture, it may be completely foreign to you; thus you will not be able to answer the question fairly. Also if English is not your native language, you may score poorly on any number of these tests, which puts you at an unfair disadvantage to English speaking test takers.
Most of these tests also have very severe time constraints. If students are performing under a watchful eye and under time constraints, it puts pressure on anyone taking these onerous tests. This can lead to test anxiety which leads to lower scores. This can lead to anxiety about college in general, which has many negative outcomes.
Everyone learns differently so trying to convince us that one test will encompass everyone’s needs is absurd. What if I cannot read fast enough to accomplish the section? Or what if I’m sick the day of the test? Each of these problems can lead to bad test scores, and an undeserved bad reputation.
Many people may be wondering why this has anything to do with me. Well, if you are like me, and wish to go to graduate school after undergraduate you will have to take another standardized test. It may be the GRE, MCAT or the LSAT. Each of these tests measures different things but they all have similarities to the previous tests. They all have unrealistic time constraints and test such a wide variety of knowledge that it is impossible to know it all. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from going to graduate school, but you should know what is ahead of you.
I believe these tests set unrealistic goals for students, and should be carefully looked at by graduate school officials. These scores do not define how a student will do in the future, and should not carry as much weight as they do now.