Why Standardized Tests Are a Poor Measure of Intelligence

Cierra Veizer, Sports Editor

Chances are you’ve taken a standardized test. Whether it be the ISAT, PSAT, SAT or ACT, almost all of us have been affected by them.

Standardized test scores can be impacted by many things such as unfamiliarity with testing methods, test anxiety and illness. The testing system may also pose a burden on low-income students, giving privileged applicants an unfair advantage.

“An analysis of data from 19 nationally representative studies by Stanford University sociologist Sean Reardon found that the gap between children of families from the lowest and highest quartiles of socioeconomic status is more than one standard deviation on reading tests at kindergarten entry, an amount equal to roughly three to six years of learning in middle or high school,” according to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Low income families may not be able to afford test preparation courses that can cost upwards of $1,000. Some of these courses promise to raise scores by as much as eight points on the ACT or 200 points on the SAT.

These preparation courses allow students to see example tests before they take their first test. When you know what to expect and how to pace yourself, you are more likely to be relaxed and comfortable, which can lead to better scores than if you are full of anxiety and stress, according to Petersons.com.

In the case of standardized testing, money, which has little to do with aptitude, acts as a barrier to education.

Researchers have found that high standardized test scores have little correlation with memory, attention and processing speed. High scores could simply mean a student excels at multiple choice test taking, according to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Some colleges and universities are test-optional, meaning that they do not require students to submit their standardized test scores upon application.

Former Dean of Admissions for Bates College William Hiss conducted a study that compared grades and graduation rates of students who submitted their test scores to those who did not. Only .05 percent of a GPA point set submitters and non-submitters apart, and the difference in their graduation rates was .6 percent, according to PBS.

So if test scores are disregarded, what should admission officers turn to instead?

Hiss says GPA matters most.

“The evidence of the study clearly shows that high school GPA matters. Four-year, long-term evidence of self-discipline, intellectual curiosity and hard work; that’s what matters the most,” Hiss told PBS.

However, despite all of its shortcomings, standardized tests allow schools to quickly and easily compare students to one another.

Standardized tests measure how well students can learn the tricks to beat the system, and they place entire futures on one three to four-hour block of time. Maybe it’s time to do away with them altogether.