Are College Entrance Exams Really Necessary
Standardized testing for entrance into college is something almost every student going to college in the United States is required to take. Do we as a country put too much emphasis on testing and not enough on actual knowledge and learning? Standardized testing has taken over this country as a way for our government to measure how much our children are “learning.” Standardized testing has become the only way people measure what our children know and how they are doing in comparison to every other child in the United States. There are just a few problems with making it the only way to determine a child’s intelligence and with it being a major factor in getting into a good college.
The first problem with college entrance exams is that there is discrimination in many of them. The tests discriminate against the poor, women, and minorities. It is a proven fact that high family income is correlated to high test scores. Families that have a higher income can pay for their children to do after school test prep classes and have private tutors. Is that a fair way to judge who should get into a college? The kids whose parents have the most money and get trained to pass tests get better scores and go to the better schools. Martin Shapiro, a testing specialist and psychology professor at Emory University, believes that using race as an admission factor is the only way to offset biases in standardized testing. That then leads to other issues. If a school is using race as a factor then is it not possible they are discriminating against white males? There is no easy solution to this problem. The tests are biased but using race as an admission factor is also wrong.
Another issue with college entrance exams is they put too much stress on students. Knowing your entire future can ride on how well you take one test is a lot of stress for a 17 year old student. Another issue on top of that is test anxiety. Not all students can handle the stress of taking even normal everyday tests in the classroom, let alone a test that will determine the rest of their life. Too much emphasis is being put on these tests. There are other ways to measure a student’s intelligence. Some other ways include writing papers and actually using the knowledge in productive ways.
An additional argument against college entrance exams is that standardized tests do not show how much knowledge a student possesses. It shows how well trained they have been to take tests and how much students can memorize or guess. There is no creativity involved in taking a standardized test. Teachers start in elementary school and keep going until graduation in prepping students for taking these important standardized tests. They cram students full of information to be memorized and then the students are trained in how to put that back on to a test. What are students really learning?
Yet another argument for not allowing college entrance exams is that when in real life will these students be taking standardized tests? Once people are out of college they are not taking tests on a regular basis. There are already colleges that have stopped requiring college entrance exam scores. These colleges are also starting to put less emphasis on the test scores are more emphasis on grades and extracurricular activities. Most of these colleges are liberal arts colleges. More and more highly ranked schools are going SAT- optional, such as Smith College, New York University, and Wake Forest University.
There are arguments to support college entrance exams. One of those arguments is that if you cannot do well on an entrance exam then you probably won’t succeed in college. However, what does that say about our college curriculum? If our colleges are only based on tests then are our students even learning anything at college or are they again just memorizing and writing down what they memorized? Students are supposed to be in college to get a better education and to actually learn how to do their future job in a productive and efficient way. Is that really what is happening?
Another argument supporting college entrance exams is that this can help distinguish the best and brightest students. However, they are not always really finding the brightest students. They are finding the students that come from the wealthiest families, who have had test preps and private tutors. This is not always the case there are the exceptions, but for the most part they are only finding the students who have been taught to pass standardized tests. The students are not really learning any valuable knowledge they are just learning to pass tests.
In conclusion college entrance exams as an idea are great, but in reality they are flawed. The entrance exams stress students, there is discrimination in the testing, and they are not really testing a student’s knowledge. Less emphasis should be put on the tests and more emphasis should be put on what the students have actually learned and who they are as a person. It is not fair that a student doesn’t get accepted to a college based solely on the fact that their score wasn’t high enough, when the kids getting the high grades have been being coached in testing by their private tutors.