arguments for and against standardized testing in college admissions

Posted : February 3, 2009
Last Updated : June 25, 2013
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arguments for and against standardized testing in college admissions

Standardized college admissions tests have been around since the early 1900s. In recent years, there has been much research and discussion over the use of standardized testing in college admissions. Because of new information this research has introduced, some schools no longer require students to submit SAT and ACT scores but instead offer a test-optional policy. The debate about standardized testing in college admissions is still ongoing, but here are some arguments for and against these tests.

Arguments For Standardized Testing
Advocates of standardized testing in college admissions say that the SAT and ACT serve as national, standardized scales to determine how prepared students are for college.  The following are just a few arguments in favor of standardized testing.

  • Standardized testing is practical. The tests have explicit directions and are easy to administer. They are also time efficient and easy to grade.
  • Standardized testing prepares the student for college. When students prepare for and take the SAT or ACT, they learn test-taking skills that will help them in college.
  • Standardized testing offsets grade inflation. With grade inflation on the rise in many school systems, standardized tests offer a way to consistently compare student knowledge and aptitude.
  • Standardized testing is objective. Compared to more involved assessments, standardized tests are unbiased. For the most part, standardized tests are graded by machines so grader moods and biases will not affect test scores.

Arguments Against Standardized Testing
Critics of standardized testing in college admissions say that standardized tests are no longer as good of an indicator of college success as once thought. The following are just a few arguments against standardized testing.

  • Standardized testing is biased against certain groups. Standardized testing shows bias towards women and groups of ethnic and socioeconomic diversity. In regards to an income bias, wealthy students become more prepared for standardized tests through better life experiences, such as top-quality schools and test prep tutors.
  • Standardized testing adds too much stress to student lives. Students spend a lot of time stressing over the SAT/ACT when they could be focusing their energy on more important academic and social activities that could benefit them in the future.
  • Standardized testing impedes the assessment of a very important skill. For the most part, standardized tests hinder any sort of creative or out-of-the-box thinking, which is a skill needed in college and in the workforce.

Only time will tell what the future holds for standardized testing in college admissions. For now, most schools continue to require and rely on SAT/ACT scores (as well as other factors) to make admissions decisions.


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