What is the impact of standardized testing on students and teachers? In the end, aren’t these tests obsolete? This is simply too slow.

Students’ college admissions process should be both exciting and joyous, and it’s my privilege to be a part of it. I’ve seen firsthand the vast and destructive pressure our young people face as they attempt to negotiate a world designed by adults who profit from their anxiety—particularly when it comes to standardized testing, such as the SAT and ACT.

I am a better college counselor since I am the mother of four children, including a college freshman and two high school students. Just telling other people’s kids which universities they should consider, how to complete the Common App, or whether they should retake the SAT is one thing; helping those students is quite another. 

In the end, it’s all about how you handle the news that you’ve just missed your goal score on a test (again), sit down to write yet another “Why Us?” college essay, or receive a rejection from the college you’ve been dreaming of attending. My heart is broken and swelled by each of my students.

As a result, I find the impact of standardized testing on students this time of year to be particularly difficult as I watch seniors receive college acceptance letters and juniors begin the application process. I wish I could focus on all the fantastic opportunities that await my juniors. Still, I instead answer frightened inquiries about standardized tests: Is there a “better” SAT or ACT? When is the best time to take them? Is there a limit to how many times they can take them? What’s the best option for them? Which one is it, exactly? What will happen if their exam is rescheduled? So, what happens if they don’t get into their ideal school because they didn’t earn the score they “need?”

If you’re a parent, here’s what you need to understand about the current college admissions process.

Many schools are now ‘Test-Blind’ or ‘Test-Optional’ in their approach to testing.

Test-optional admissions procedures have been implemented at more than a thousand American schools and universities. If students submit test scores to a “test-optional” university, they will be considered, but they will not be penalized for not doing so. 

Putting together a jigsaw puzzle with one missing piece is how one admissions official explained the test-optional admissions process to me. That particular component can potentially alter the whole image and its meaning fundamentally, but it is unlikely to do so. 

By examining other parts of an applicant’s application, like grades, transcript rigor, and teacher references, admissions readers can get a complete picture of who the applicant could be on their campus.

A majority of colleges and institutions in the United States went test-optional as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, which prevented many incoming freshmen from taking an SAT or ACT at all. 

Consequently, several colleges and universities are already implementing “test-blind” admissions policies, such as the state university system of California. Even if test scores are supplied, test-blind universities will not utilize them in their admissions evaluations. When it comes to admissions to public institutions in Florida and Georgia, these two states have become the exception rather than the rule.

SAT and ACT are no longer relevant, so why are they still required? Is it still relevant to take tests? Does this apply to some students, such as applicants for state university entrance or merit scholarships and those who want to bolster their application by mentioning them? Yes, at least for such kids. They have a nagging feeling that their future is in jeopardy each time they look at their score results. For my students and their parents, test results are still a measure of value, one that colleges are better able to deliver than anybody else.

Time Is Spent on Testing (And Money)

It’s been a long time since COVID-19 disrupted students’ schedules, but they haven’t given up on testing. If they don’t submit their results, admissions officers will presume that they weren’t high enough. They are concerned about this possibility. 

In addition to their academics, sports, and extracurricular activities, many high school students invest a significant amount of time and money into studying for standardized tests in order to increase their chances of admission to selective universities. 

The College Board and ACT, Inc. then have them for several Saturday mornings. You can spend hundreds of dollars only to take the test if you don’t qualify or know how to claim your cost waivers.

A Whole Life Is Reduced to a Score by Testing.

Parenting is about teaching our children to see themselves in a larger context than just their academic achievements. We stress the importance of the student’s daily activities outside of the classroom over a three-hour Saturday morning standardized test. Then we keep contradicting ourselves.

The Future Is In Their Hands

More pressure is placed on students whose scholarships are related to their exam scores. In order to save their parents as much as possible on the annual cost of public state university tuition, I often witness seniors retaking tests five, six, eight, or even nine times. There are certain families for whom that figure could represent the difference between a student being able to attend college and not. For those who don’t meet the minimum score requirements, no amount of hard work, many hours of study, or desire or need for the scholarship will help them get it.

Our Children’s Self-Esteem Is Destroyed by Testing.

This is one of the sad impact of standardized testing on students.

I hope you never have to propose to a teenager that they remove a score they worked extremely hard to acquire from their college applications in order to give them a better chance of getting into institutions they want to attend. 

At the moment when they grasp what I’m saying, seeing their faces makes me feel like a collaborator in the horrific hazing we continue to condone and subject our children to, which I know I’ll never forget. In order to help my students get to where they want to go—and where I believe they should—I do it only when necessary.

The Verdict

My pupils are advised to prepare for and take either the SAT or the ACT because a high score is still an advantage in most college admissions evaluations. 

In addition, I strongly recommend that standardized tests be given with less oxygen. A better approach is to focus on the aspects of their applications that they have more control over and that reveal more about who they are as people and what they can bring to a college campus, like how they push themselves academically and in their extracurricular activities during high school and what they have accomplished so far as a member of the community in their high school. 

The effort, hard work, and a desire to succeed will always outweigh test scores. That’s something we all need to believe and keep in mind, especially our children.

Related article: Is Homeschooling Expensive?