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Standardized Testing- Why Is It Still A Thing
  • Aug 2022
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Standardized Testing- Why Is It Still A Thing

8th August 2022

Standardized testing is a curriculum method prevalent in schools through which the administration puts the students to test. It is a standard set of questions the students have to answer. The score on the test decides whether the child gets a promotion to the next grade or not.

Standardized testing is a traditional form of evaluating the knowledge and skills of students. Needless to say, the tests are not individualized at all. This has sparked a debate regarding the logic and need for standardized testing. Before getting to the debate, let us look into a few pointers about standardized testing. 



Standardized testing is the most well-known method of testing students’ achievement. It is prevalent in both schools and colleges. This method is found extensively in the US to measure students’ knowledge and skills. It is a good way to understand the culmination of the curriculum as well. Students who do well in these standardized tests have monetary benefits. Even though the standardized testing method has been around for a very long time, it is being opposed.   



A) Standardized tests came into play to check a student’s progress. It is to make sure the student is keeping up with the curriculum. Tests at regular intervals happen to check whether the student is indulging in regular academic studies.

B) Standardized testing can help educators look out for the weaknesses and strengths students may have. This will work only in an academic setting. Teachers will be able to keep a check on the student’s academic issues.

C) Colleges in the US have standardized entrance tests to admit students. The purpose of these tests is to check whether the students are ready to be in college. A high school graduate has to go through the tests to secure admission into a college.

D) Some tests might be to check the academic standard of a school. Tests are conducted to judge the capacity of the school in educating its students. 

For more to read on the purpose of standardized testing, do visit the link given. 



People who speak for the standardized testing system, argue that it is the only way to fish out gifted students from the regular ones. Some of their arguments are.



Some people are of the opinion that standardized tests are the accounts of the teaching. Public schools have a monotonous and dull way of teaching. Students often come out with almost no practical knowledge. Standard testing can be instrumental in judging the level of teaching and holding teachers accountable.


Standardized testing has been used to analyze data from different public schools. Analyzing data is one of the most important agendas of the state universities


Standardized testing has a definite structure that every school and student has to follow. It is considered to be a fair way of testing students.


The standardized tests, true to their name are created under certain standards by experts. Proponents argue that these tests are scientifically created and are reliable.



Some people are against the concept of standardized testing. To them, the system is profoundly fixated on earning grades. Their arguments are as follows.


Standardized tests true to their name have standards that are not for every student. The tests are created keeping in mind the general mass. Situational dysfunctions can hamper a student’s performance. This is not taken into account.


Opponents argue that standardized testing does not measure the progress of a student due to its nature. Students may be excelling in a situation different from what standardized testing allows.


Public and private schools in the same area have to compete with each other. The method of this is through standardized tests. In some situations, the tests are used by politicians for their own benefit.

To read more on the above topics visit the link given.



Even though standardized tests may seem to be impractical in the current education scenario, it is important to write them. They have not yet been done with and are still a part of the academic system. A few strategies to ace them are as follows.

A) Study for the exam for several weeks and not the day before the exam.

B) Relax the day before the exam.

C) Indulge in a good night’s sleep.

D) Have a hearty breakfast to keep you full throughout the test. 

E) Reach the exam center before time to avoid last-minute stress.

F) Go through the test instructions carefully.

G) Find out if there is any penalty score for wrong answers.

H) Go through the questions carefully.

I) Manage time accurately.

J) Do not play the guessing game with answers unless it is accurate.

K) Check for any overlooked questions once the test is done.



1. Standardized is a much sought after feature of any assessment. In technicality, standardized tests are those that are similar for all the candidates. They have similar questions and the type of assessment is also the same. The technical definition does not say anything about the content or the format of the standardized tests. 

2. In most heavily criticized tests, the main idea of criticism is the format. For example, opponents may criticize multiple choice questions because of them being too minimalistic. The option of choice hinders the students from being precise with their options. Moreover, the presence of a pre-written answer does not let the student indulge in complex thought processes. 

3. In k-12 education, the reasons for critiques are two. One of them is the content. The content of the test is thought to be irregular with the curriculum. The other is the format of the test. The multiple choice format is not capable to display the proper level of cognitive development.

4. Despite these flaws, standardized testing is being used in the education sector. One reason for this is the cost of taking tests. The cost of standardized tests can be slow as a few dollars. 

5. The only way out of this circle of drudgery is by bringing new innovations into the assessment industry. However, these innovations need to be done keeping in mind the cost factor of public schools as well.

 6. Schools can introduce interim assessments spanning over the whole academic year, instead of a single test. 

7. Public education can also introduce technological scoring and tests which are bound to bring the price factor down. 

To read more about why standardized testing is still a thing despite its flaws, follow the link.


Standardized tests analyze the standing of a child or an organization in a large scenario. In one standardized test named PISA, which includes 79 countries, America stands 13th and 36th in reading and mathematics respectively. Due to the low level of achievement, the federal government decided to step in.


The federal government decided to step into the domain of education when the ranks in the PISA were consistently mediocre. It was noticed that two-thirds of the students were not proficient readers. This led to the government deciding on standardized testing and other mandates to increase the rate of education.

According to law, The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965), extra funding was done to help marginalized students study. According to another act in 2003, the No Child Left Behind Act, students were to be annually accessed through standardized tests. 

A report regarding socially, economically, and historically backward students were to be sent as well. 


Standardized tests were not controversial before the federal government interfered. For instance, according to many standardized testing essays, after the No Child Left Behind Act, a huge gap was found between the students of color and their white peers. This instigated the government to take social gaps seriously. Teachers and the administration felt attacked. Parents felt that their child was not receiving an adequate education. 

The federation passed a law requiring 100% proficiency from schools. This led to the schools lowering the quality of their tests. 

In 2015, the No Child Left Behind Act was reinstated as the  Every Student Succeeds Act. Under this act, the federal government removed annual tests and introduced flexibility.


The US is a country that is full of social, economical, racial and historical dissimilarities. Earlier standardized tests were biased and offensive. However, in the current scenario, these tests are somewhat working towards bringing everything together. Sometimes, when the testing is left to the teacher, the perception of the individual might be biased. Through standardized testing, students from all walks of life have the opportunity to be seen. Standardized testing can be the breakthrough needed to abolish racial inequality and racial bias.


Civil rights have always focussed on the problems of inequity and education. In the academic structure, equity is seen when every child regardless of their background has the opportunity to succeed. Standardized test outcomes are one of the best ways for civil rights activists to put forth the impending inequalities residing in the education system.

To decrease the vast difference in classes of students standardized assignments are needed. These tests help provide an unbiased view of the way school systems are beneficial to students. The data taken from the tests should be used to introduce a more equal way of learning. 


Tests are not methods to judge the knowledge of a student. The standardized test can probably give an insight into student literacy. Schools cannot be judged based on these tests. These tests can point out those students who are probably struggling academically. The tests are also to hold the teacher accountable in care of bad teaching. 

Results of the standardized tests can narrow down the problems students are facing. Once that is done a solution can be found for it. Nothing more should be judged based on a standardized test.

To get a more detailed insight into the above points about standardized test controversies, look into the link given. 



To provide a summary of the previous sections, the standardized test debate is an important issue to add. Under this, the pros and cons of the test are taken into analysis and consideration. A few of the main points under this debate are.

1. The problem of equity is prevalent. Wealthy schools in America are bound to produce better students. To do away with this, standardized tests are important. But, every student is not similar. Students may have different interests. Each student can be exceptional in their arena. Standardized tests do not help with this issue.

2. There is no prescribed way of producing a test. People who create the test are experts in their fields. Hence, the test is to be a pristine one. However, multiple choices are not enough to test a student. The cognitive abilities of the student would go to waste if this is taken into consideration.

3. Students are forced to write under a certain framework when sitting for standardized tests. Even though STEM subjects are the hallmarks of US education. Students are not doing well in the field. Standardized tests are preventing students from being creative. 

4. The tests are used to hold teachers and schools accountable. However, accountability of the education department is not going to create a better study environment for the students. 

5. To avoid the risk of accountability, teachers may teach students just to get them ready for the rest. Students will not learn how to read books that are out of the syllabus. Reading under the lines would also be a skill that would not be present in students. 

To read more about the standardized test debate, visit the following links.



The only way students can be benefited through the standardized testing system is when they are allowed to pursue interests of their own along with a few core standard subjects. The interference of the federal government has been instrumental in making the testing system even more complicated.

Students and teachers are stressed due to the system of standardized testing. More than 112 tests throughout k-12 education are a lot. That would amount to approximately 10 exams per year. Standardized testing has managed to bring around uniformity but failed to put actual value into the domain of education. 


Expert Suggestions

Stefan Maisnier- Director of Online Tutoring, MyGuru

What are your concerns about standardized testing?
That people don't understand the utility of standardized tests and believe that they are an arbitrary part of the higher education application or professional certification process. These tests are well-designed arbiters of skill that are relevant to your academic or career goals.

What can be done to enhance standardized testing?
A greater effort should be made by the testing authorities to explain how and why the tests are useful gauges of skills. 

What is your best advice for students in terms of how they should behave?
Look at these tests as an opportunity and not an obligation. You can improve your performance on standardized tests and in a shorter amount of time than raising your GPA.

How should you handle standardized testing in order to prepare for college?
Set a regular practice schedule and stick to it. Getting better at a standardized test is more akin to improving a skill than studying for an academic exam, so practice, practice, practice!

Bruce Hanson, Founder/CEO of First Choice Admissions

What are your concerns about standardized testing?
It’s true that a minority kid from a place like Inglewood, CA averages about a 950 on the SAT while a white child from an upscale neighborhood like Brentwood, CA averages about an 1115 on the SAT.  And that’s probably biased and unfair.  But it’s not the real problem. 

The real problem is the family from Brentwood has the money to hire me (or someone like me) to privately tutor their kid.  So three months and $5,000 later, the kid from Brentwood is scoring 1500.  Now that kid studied very hard and earned every point, but having my help is a game changer. The kid who didn’t have the money to hire me is still stuck with a 950.  

Suddenly, there’s a very big difference between the students’ scores - and a very big problem.  The kid who got the high score now has much better college and university opportunities than the kid who got the low score.   Not only is that hugely unfair to individual kids, but it’s a terrible way to identify the best and brightest to train as future leaders.  That’s the real problem. 

What can be done to enhance standardized testing?

The key is to make high-quality test prep available to every student.  Then they can compete on a more or less even playing field.   In my experience, kids who have access to great test prep (regardless of ethnicity, gender identity or economic background) tend to do well on the ACT and SAT and those who don’t have access to great test prep tend to struggle.

When it comes to the ACT and SAT most people, for completely understandable reasons, think the tests evaluate a student’s math and English skills. So students who studied hard in school should do well on the tests,  right?

That’s not really how it works.  Almost all the material covered on the ACT and SAT is stuff kids learned by freshman year.  Sure, the kids absolutely have to know the basic English and math, but generally the tests aren’t hard because of WHAT they ask, but because of HOW they ask it.  

In other words, it takes very specific ACT/SAT test taking skills to get a great score.  It used to be that getting those test skills required taking an expensive class or hiring an expensive tutor.  But it doesn’t have to be like that anymore. 

What is your best advice for students in terms of how they should behave?

Start early.  Remember most of the stuff on the tests you learned freshman year so you can start studying as early as sophomore year.  Getting a score nailed down by early junior year makes the college application process a lot less stressful.

Be patient with yourself.  You’re learning a new set of ACT/SAT skills.  As a former student of mine put it, “I know all this stuff, but they ask it in such weird ways.”  Exactly. 

Get some help.  Remember the ACT and SAT work in very particular ways.  As you understand how the tests actually work and how they actually want you to approach questions, the tests get much easier.  But someone needs to teach you that stuff. 

How should you handle standardized testing in order to prepare for college?

Most kids apply to a number of schools- some might require an ACT/SAT score, some might be optional and some might not look at a score even if you provide one.  

For most students it’s best if they have an ACT or SAT score that they can submit if it’s to their advantage for a certain school.  A good score is a strong point in their application. 

What’s a good score?  Generally, if you’re applying to a test optional school and your ACT/SAT score is over the median score for your target school (you can usually find that info on the website - worst case you can call the admissions department) then submit your score.  It’s likely to help you get in.  If it’s below the median, don’t submit it.


Bara Sapir, the CEO/Founder of City Test Prep 

What are your concerns about standardized testing?

Standardized testing has gone through enough iterations that what began as a skewed test that favored targeted socioeconomic and racial groups, has evolved with the times to become much more democratic and 'fair': more people are able to achieve a high score across all levels of society.

My main concern is not about the testing itself, in which I believe preparing for is, in itself, a worthwhile endeavour, but a kind of unwarranted demonizing of the test, almost to distract from the aspects of the application process which are far more questionable or typically attainable with a high price tag. The seeming funding behind this process and the demonizing of the test seems to ignore that testing provides a fair and clear assessment of a student's abilities, the possibilities of learning the material that is deemed as demonstrating 'college readiness, and it's the only aspect of the test in which all students are compared similarly.

What can be done to enhance standardized testing?
Because I see standardized testing as an opportunity for growth and learning, sharing this view is useful. Perhaps there can be different ways to test students, for example, the logical reasoning section on the LSAT is a wonderful exercise in spatial and time management. Also critical thinking. In addition, the test can include various ways to take 'in' information the way the TOEFL includes speaking/listening. 

What is your best advice for students in terms of how they should behave?
I'm sorry: I am not sure I understand the question. In general, I believe we all should behave with kindness, curiosity and integrity. Feeling grateful is also beneficial. I'm not sure how this question fits into these queries.
How should you handle standardized testing in order to prepare for college?
It depends on who the 'who' is.  Preparing for a standardized admissions test is a wonderful opportunity to reinforce content and learning that demonstrates a student's "college readiness." It provides the opportunity to have a goal and work towards it as well as being discerning in HOW to prepare for it. The way we teach admissions tests is to help students master content, use the best test-taking strategy and critical thinking skills, manage time effectively (through speed reading) and embody an optimal mindset. This is a winning formula for success as a college student so gaining these habits to study smarter through preparation, rather than harder, are beneficial life skills.


1. Should standardized testing be abolished? Why should standardized testing be abolished?

Standardized testing is surely one of the most impractical educational policies out there. But, it cannot be abolished as of now. There is no alternative to standardized testing that is cheap and widely regularized.

2. What is the purpose of standardized testing?

Standardized testing is to create a regularized method of assessment for all children. It is used to analyze the level of studies and the goodwill of the school. The scores coming out of it are used to judge whether the student is fit for higher education. 

3. Why is standardized testing important?

Standardized testing is important to assess students in the same group. It is systematic and has a definite structure. This type of testing is supposed to judge children without bias.

4. How to opt-out of standardized testing?

The most common way of opting out of standardized testing is by writing a mail to the principal asking them to let the child opt out. However, if the student does not want to sit for a standardized test, they should choose a college that does not require a standard entrance.

5. Do standardized tests measure intelligence?

Standardized tests are known for being very non-individualistic. In some cases, they might measure intelligence. However, not every student has the same tastes, choices, talents, or skills.

6. How much time is taken on standardized testing?

On average, 20-25 hours are spent on standardized testing every year. By the time an average American graduate's high school they would have already sat for 112 tests approximately.



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