The Drawbacks of Standardized Testing

Riley Sims, Co-Editor-in-Chief

One of the first steps of a college application is a student’s submission of their SAT or ACT tests. Both the SAT and ACT are designed to test students’ knowledge over skills that colleges deem useful. Though colleges claim the tests even out the playing field for applicants, there have been debates about the emphasis placed on the tests.

Colleges should not rely so heavily on these standardized tests, because they put some students at an unfair advantage and often discourages certain groups from applying.

The SAT and ACT are considered very important in the application process because they test all students over the same concepts. Not all high schools in the country have the same curriculum, or offer the same amount of AP classes. As result, some students may be at a disadvantage because their application may not be as competitive as other students’.

However, the scores don’t always show the preparation the student underwent. There are many resources that students can use to study for the exams, like books, online resources and prep classes. Despite all of the resources available, they’re not easily accessible for all students because of their costs. According to, tutors can range anywhere from $30 to $150 per hour. While some school districts, like GISD, may offer free prep courses at students’ high schools, others may not have the budget for them. These tests also negatively impact students who have test taking anxiety, which, according to the American Test Taking Anxieties Association’s website, affects about 16 to 20 percent of students today. Students may know the material and study for hours but get a bad score because of their anxiety. As a result, their chances of getting into particular colleges can be affected.

There are alternatives to standardized tests that can be used in the college application process. Many colleges are adopting a holistic approach when it comes reviewing applicants. They view the application as a whole as opposed to only looking at a student’s test scores and transcript. This way, if a student has a low test score, other aspects of their applications, like extracurriculars and recommendations, may work in their favor. Standardized tests can also look at other countries application procedures. For example, in France, the students take the Baccalauréat exam, also known as the Bac, which is based on what the student learned over the last two years of education. Many of the classes they take in school over those two years help prepare them for the test, as opposed to the ACT and SAT where the students get no guaranteed school time dedicated to learning the exam. There are three sections of the Bac exam-literature, social and economic and science-and students get to decide which one to take. This way, students can be tested on a subject that they are familiar with and is related to their intended major.

While some may say that standardized tests help even out the playing field for college applicants, they really hurt the chances for many bright students who may not have the resources available to do well on these tests. College applications need to focus less on numbers and more on the individual.