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Brian Hobbs
UWRT 1102-41
Final Paper
3 May 2016
Does Standardized Testing Accurately Reflect a Students Intelligence?
I took the SAT once and I took the ACT twice. I would say that my scores were average.
It was nothing special to be honest. I usually dont like to think of highly myself, but I didnt
think my scores reflected me well as a student. I believe that was also the case for most students.
The people that passed the test with good scores, seemed to pass it because they just knew how
to take the test. I can remember all of the stress that would go into taking the test. We would
prepare for it all the time in school by doing practice problems and practice tests. We were
always told how important these tests were for getting into a good college. That statement wasnt
false, but it didnt help when it came time for the test.
On the test day, you had to wake up early on a Saturday morning. For a high school
student, this was not exciting. Most students came into the testing facility with a bad attitude to
begin with and then the stress became a factor. A lot of kids would worry too much about the test
and then preform bad. The testing conditions itself already threw off the student into making a
low score. The test itself was a different story.
When I got the test, it was a long process to fill out all of my information. It seemed to
drag on forever. After that was done, the actual testing began. The test itself tries to trick you into

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picking the wrong answer. The test makers will purposefully put answer choices in that make
sense, but are wrong. They like to put questions in that have multiple answers, but they want you
to pick the best answer. The test is also timed and there never seems to be enough time to finish a
section. The test itself only goes over math, science, reading, and English. A lot of topics arent
covered. The science section is only reading graphs and requires no background knowledge of
science. With all of this combined, the SAT/ACT is not a good way to measure the students
intelligence. I understand why the College Board needs this test, but there has to be a better way
to do this. Too many smart students are slipping through the cracks and not being noticed for
who they are.
First, I think we need to look at why there is standardized testing in the first place.
Standardized testing was created to separate the normal students from the brilliant students.
Standardized testing was mostly used by Ivy League schools. As time went on, more and more
schools started to use it to measure their own students that they were admitting. About 10 years
ago, every school was using it. There was no other way to measure a students intelligence. A
college cant look at the grades of a student because every high school is different and everyone
is not on the same academic level. Today, more and more people are starting to dismiss
standardized testing because the test itself is flawed (Tiefenthaler). Some colleges are starting to
do the same as well. They are now making it optional to submit an SAT/ACT score. The value of
the SAT/ACT is going down and down from the perspective of college admission teams
(Hernandez). It is a step in the right direction and it is making a lot of people happy. There are
many reasons why the SAT/ACT is bad and does not properly reflect a students intelligence.
To begin with, the test itself is very narrow minded. It only has two main sections: Math
and English. The SAT/ACT has a small science section, but it doesnt require any prior

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knowledge of science to answer the questions. If you havent noticed, there are a lot more
subjects in school than Math and English. There are science, history and other small electives
that should be on the test as well. Some people like to argue that the SAT/ACT is not being fair
to those students who spend a lot of time studying these subjects (Hudlow). A lot of kids are very
bright and talented students, and if they lack knowledge in the English section, then they will get
a bad score.
Standardized tests not only test you on a narrowed focus of knowledge, they present the
questions in a cheap way. The SAT/ACT tries to trick the students into picking the wrong answer.
This is wrong. There should be no circumstance where a student is tricked out of the right
answer. The whole point of the test is to see who is intelligent and who is not. It should not be
focused on who does and doesnt get tricked. The format of the test is also flawed. Students have
little to no time to properly complete a test. Some people take tests fast and others take their
time. The test favors those who take the test fast. When the students get their scores back, the
person who can take test fast will have a higher score compared to the student who takes the test
slow. In the eyes of a college admissions officer, the student with the higher score is smarter.
Well, that is not necessarily true. The slower test taker could be smarter, but they do not have the
time to show their abilities and because of the format of the test, they appear less intelligent. At
the end of each section, most students have to guess the answers because they run out of time.
Being that there are five possible answer choices, it is only a 20% chance of choosing correctly.
The optional writing section is flawed as well. There is no time to write the essay. Most
students have weeks to formulate and write an essay so why do they now only have 30 minutes
to do so. These are just some of the main points why students do poorly on the SAT/ACT

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(Sheffer). There are other reasons behind students not doing well on the exam. Test anxiety is
very common is most high school students today, and it really effects their scores.
The atmosphere behind the SAT/ACT is very negative. Many students hate taking it and
always go in with a bad attitude. There is a lot of negative buildup around the test. A lot of
students have busy and hectic lifestyles in high school and should not be put under any more
pressure than what they are already under (Kaminski). Adding on the pressure of a standardized
test will not help. The teachers and college placement workers dont help when they put a lot of
the students under pressure. The teachers and college placement workers hype up the test and
make them seem more important that what they really are. This makes the students worry and
perform badly on the test. On the morning of the test, the student has to get up early so they can
take a test. All of the tests are on a Saturday. Waking up early on a Saturday is not a good
combination for most high school students. The test anxiety has also reached a maximum at this
point. Mixing a lot of test anxiety and fatigue is not a good combination for a student who is
trying to get a high score on a test. The testing environment is not ideal as well. Each student is
packed into a room full of people they have never seen before. For some people this is not a
problem and for others it can really mess with their mind. The first part of the test is filling out
information which can be time consuming and frustrating. Once the test starts, it takes about four
hours to finish. Towards the end of the test, the student is very fatigued and their brain cant
function properly. With all of this combined, it does not make an ideal situation to test a student
on their intelligence. The good news surrounding all of this negativity about the test, is that
colleges are starting to catch on.
There are some unfair advantages that some students can gain for the test. There is a big
markup for SAT/ACT help classes. Many companies charge a lot of money for these services.

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The students who get help can usually get their scores up a little bit. A lot of students cant afford
these and are left stranded on the side of the road with no help. It is generally unfair for those
who cant afford it. This also bring up another point about the test itself. Many students like to
take the test multiple times. Each test costs around $75 to take. For many students, they cant
afford this and are stuck with the score they got the first time. This is just another example of
why it can be unfair for those who are less fortunate that others.
Many college admissions workers are starting to come out saying that colleges should
throw away that part of the application. When they look at students and correlate their test scores
and how successful they are during and after college, there is no correlation (Chan). Colleges are
starting to learn there is much more that goes into a successful student than good scores from a
test early on a Saturday morning. Hard working and all around good people turn into a good
student. Students who work hard will be less likely to skip class. And those students who skip
less class tend to have better scores in college.
The SAT/ACT is flawed. It is not the right tool to use to judge students on their
intelligence. There are many factors for the SAT/ACT being bad. One of the main reasons for
bad test scores is the simple fact that the test writes purposefully make you fail. Students are also
rushed during the test. The test itself doesnt go over all of the main subjects schools go over in
school. Students are also stressed about the test because there is so much that rides on the test.
Students put pressure on themselves as well as by their parents and peers. Many colleges are
starting to realize this and are making their applications test optional. There needs to be a change
to make it fair for all students because many of them are being unfairly judged.

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Works Cited
Chan, Amanda. "SAT Is Not a Fair Measure of Skills." Penn Live. Advance Digital, 3 Jan. 2012.
Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
Hernandez, Michele, Dr. "Save Our Teenagers: Ditch the SAT Reasoning Test." The Huffington
Post, 29 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
Hudlow, Andy. "Standardized Testing Is Not an Accurate Measure of Intelligence." Knight
Errant. FLEX World Press Theme by SNO, 14 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
Kaminski, Kaitlyn. "Is There a Need for College Entrance Exams Like the SAT/ACT?" The
Huffington Post. 1 May 2014. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
Sheffer, Sarah. "Do ACT and SAT Scores Really Matter? New Study Says They
Shouldnt." PBS, 18 Feb. 2014. Web. 02 Mar. 2016.
Tiefenthaler, Jill. "SATs Do Not Take the Full Measure of a High School Student." US News.
U.S. News & World Report, 4 Sept. 2009. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.