Thoughts on Standardized Testing

This is for the freshmen student, struggling to understand the algebra 1 chapter 2 before his test on Thursday.

This is for the senior student, who is balancing school, volleyball, and a job and who is running on a maximum of 4 hours of sleep each night.

This is for the perfectionist, who is devastated when they see that they forgot a crucial detail in their essay final for English class.

This is for the slacker who doesn’t finish his homework because no matter how many times he has asked his chemistry teacher about unit conversions, she gives him answers that do not help and that he does not understand.

This is for the everyday student, hustling out of the door and onto the school bus while studying for his history test, even though he will forget a majority of the information he is studying, and he will get a C. He will go through the day wondering if he did okay, only when he walks through the door and his mother begins lecturing him, he will know he messed up.

She will tell him he needs to try harder, and he will, and she will take away his phone or tell him that he is grounded for the weekend, but it is not these punishments that will inspire him to work harder.

For a while after the test, while his grade sits at that C-, he will feel unintelligent. He will work harder to get a better grade, but for what?


Learning, really learning, is not about how much information you can remember before a test, just to forget it immediately afterward. Learning is not about memorizing Pythagorean’s theorem or the proper structure of an essay just to barely pass the third quarter. Learning is not about staying up all night and then waking up at 5 am to finish your long list of tedious homework assignments, which still never really taught you anything about that class.

They claim to prepare us for college, yet do not mention how to apply, how to pay off student loans, or how to get scholarships. They don’t mention that even if we excel academically, are involved in extracurricular activities, volunteer multiple hours towards the community, and have good scores on SAT, ACT, etc. we still aren’t very likely to get into our first choice colleges.

It is understood that when you are applying for a job, they aren’t looking at that calculus final that you aced after studying for weeks. They aren’t looking at the analytical essay that you wrote and rewrote to perfection just to bring your grade up from a C because of a previous zero on an assignment that was due online at midnight, but you turned it in at 12:05.

When you are taking that high-stakes, standardized test and you realize you do not remember a vital theorem or equation that applies to five questions. Then, you come across five more questions that include one of the hundreds of vocabulary words you tried to memorize for this test. Then, you are at the end of the test and there are a couple of questions that ask you which sentence is the most grammatically correct, but when was the last time you went over grammar in your English class?

You have made an average score on your SAT, but in our minds, this equates to failure. In our schooling, we are taught that good isn’t good enough, yet perfection is purposely unattainable.

You leave feeling worthless, but this score should not define who you are. An answer that made sense to you might not have been exactly what was wanted and is immediately crossed out. Because of this, students learn to stop thinking outside of the box and they begin to memorize information in the format that it is wanted, but they never learn it.

The way in which one student understands something is  not the way multiple other students may learn. If we are individuals with different thought processes, why are we are being taught in one way that a majority would learn and understand information?


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