Does Standardized Testing Interfere With Real Education?

Some critics argue that the obsession of the American educational system with standardized tests does more harm than good.  These tests, including the ACT and SAT, measure learning only in numerical terms. But can a number tell us how much a student really understands? And should performance on a standardized test such as the SAT or ACT count so much in determining college admission?   Although a student does not do well on a test, he or she may still have an interest in learning and a great potential to learn.

Standardized testing, then, is an instrument that has important limitations.  Nevertheless, you will find that preparing for the SAT or ACT can contribute positively to your education. After all, the skills that you sharpen in order to do well on these tests — skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and science (in the case of the ACT) — are skills that will serve you well in high school, in college, and in your life thereafter.

Moreover, abolishing the SAT and ACT wouldn’t necessarily make the selection of students for college more fair or more humane.  What we need to do is expand educational prospects for all students.   A good college education — like health care, we might add —  should be universally accessible and affordable. No student who receives a high school diploma should be denied the opportunity to go to college.

Our nation should be investing much more in education.  What we say on this website about the value of personalized instruction that is tailored to the need of each student applies throughout the school system.  We need more school teachers, so that class-size can be reduced, and they should be better supported by school administration.

In brief, SAT/ACT test preparation, done in the right way, not only improves your chances for getting into the college of your choice, but also serves entirely valid educational aims.