Saturday, October 31, 2020

ACT, SAT don't offer best picture of students

Imagine not spending money and time preparing for the ACT or SAT.

Some colleges are beginning to focus less on a student’s performance on the two major standardized tests. A panel of college admissions officials is suggesting universities move away from the ACT and SAT scores and focus on other things such as high school grade-point average, extracurricular activities and classes taken while in high school.

Currently, more than 280 four-year colleges don’t require the ACT or SAT standardized tests for admissions. Colleges and universities such as Bates College in Maine, Lawrence University in Wisconsin, Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and Smith College in Massachusetts, have made these standardized tests optional.

According to a study performed by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, tests such as the College Board’s Advanced Placement exams are more similar to the high school curriculum than the ACT or SAT.

Although the ACT or SAT aren’t as relevant to classroom experience as other standardized tests, they still have a value. They show how well a student performs under pressure, which is relevant to the real world. These standardized tests don’t judge based on economic background or race. These tests are performance-based.

Some high schools “teach to the test,” or build their curriculum around what is on the SAT or ACT, while others just teach and throw the standardized tests at students and wish them well. The latter type of school could hurt a student’s chance of getting accepted to a university, yet the former doesn’t necessarily help students either. Teaching students to learn and memorize information doesn’t help students. They don’t learn how to critically think in the long run, which is vital for life during and after college.

Even if a student does well on the test, it could mean a variety of things. It could show the students they can make educated guesses or they can do well after a tutor crams specific information into their heads. The standardized tests don’t exactly allow students to critically think since the tests are multiple choice with an essay question or two. The ACT or SAT can show that the student isn’t being challenged in high school.

Sure, a student could be smart or learn the tricks to passing a test without studying, but looking at the educational background of students is the true way to calculate the measure of challenge presented by a high school for the student.

The decision to require the ACT or SAT should be left up to individual universities, but the applicant’s test scores shouldn’t be the only thing taken into consideration. In addition to looking at the test score, universities also should weigh in high school grade-point average, classes taken, application essay and participation in extracurricular activities. These tests can’t tell college administrators the different courses they’ve studied or how they enhance their learning by being active in extracurricular activities. The tests only show how well the student was able to perform on one day instead of during an entire high school career.

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