Here’s What I Think: Standardized Tests


Phil Mullen

“Stop. Put your pencil down and close the test booklet.” The infamous words that we all know too well. Whether it be the ACT, SAT, or one of the standardized tests many of us took as middle schoolers, that phrase is said at the end of each section when time is complete. There are many flaws involved with these tests, but some argue that colleges don’t have a better option when it comes to comparing applicants; this may be true, but that still doesn’t mean it’s a good way to measure the applicants. In this article, I will mainly focus on the ACT, simply because I have taken it multiple times and it is the most profound standardized test among Chaminade students.

The ACT fails to measure so much of what makes up a student’s success, yet it is valued so highly among colleges. The test is designed partly to show a student’s potential, and in a sense it does, yet grades are a much better telling of it. Everything attempted to be found in a standardized test can be found through examining a student’s grades and classes. Grades show one’s resilience and work ethic, both of which are possibly the most important trait when it comes to measuring future success–and something that standardized tests can’t show.

Intelligence is also not shown through a test like the ACT. What is being measured through the ACT is a person’s ability to take the test. In fact, I took an ACT class over the summer, and the instructor even told me that; he basically said that a high ACT score can be achieved simply through learning the tricks of the test. This brings me to my next point: this test favors the wealthy. A student with a wealthy family could have a terrible GPA but pull off a 30 on the ACT simply because they have the money to pay for the best tutors in the area.

Using a tutor makes the test favorable towards those who can afford a good one, and if one learns the tricks on how to get a good score, that will not indicate in the slightest bit their success in college and long term. The ironic part about this is that colleges use these tests partly to measure that future success. It is almost a paradox.

When asked about his thoughts on standardized tests, Teddy Divis, a student who got a perfect score of 36, says, “standardized tests like the ACT fail to measure anything except how well a student can take the test. It does not represent how well a student will do in college.” John Kuntz, another student who holds a superscore of 36, had this to say about the ACT: “It’s so dumb how one student can pay thousands of dollars to get a great tutor and therefore a high ACT, while another student who cannot afford a tutor, who may be naturally much smarter, could get the same score.” The reason I am including these quotes is to show that even many kids who score very high on standardized tests find the system to be flawed, as it is.

Lastly, I don’t disagree that these tests might be the best option colleges and different institutions have to measure intelligence other than grades, but the weightand value of these tests is way too high. Now with the ACT beginning to allow students to take only one specific section of the test in a single sitting, the system is headed in the wrong direction.