International students in the United States have many opportunities to be familiar with American culture. Education in the United States is a distinctive aspect of American culture.

Many features of American education are unique; one such example is standardized testing. Not all international students may be familiar with the term 'standardized test.'

Students get the standardized test in the same pattern, which means that the time allotted to every student is similar, all the questions on the test are the same, and the scoring criteria are the same for all tests.

In the United States, standardized tests begin in primary school when students graduate from high school and consider their higher education options.

They must decide whether they will be required to take the ACT or SAT, which are standardized exams used to assess whether the students are academically ready for higher education.

Student attempting a standardized test
Standardized tests evaluate students based on their learning in particular subjects. Depending on their score, they can get admissions to colleges and universities. (Source: Unsplash)
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What Is Standardized Testing?

To go a bit in-depth about what is standardized testing? First, all the tests taken and scored are in a consistent manner.

They are exams developed by professionals from a commercial testing corporation who check in with teachers and create a standardized way to administer the test.

Pupils receive the same questions and also get the same instructions and time limits.

The scoring criteria are well defined. Most of the time, standardized tests are developed keeping in mind students within a state, district, or country and across borders. States use these test scores to point out the schools with the lowest-performing results and assist them accordingly.

Another critical factor is that these test scores help decide the dispersal of federal funds all over the USA.

Usually, standardized exams are administered with the assistance of teachers, and students receive a manual with details about scoring and administration.

Why Take Standardized Tests?

Wondering what is the purpose behind standardized testing? They help students pursue their education further, get into college and universities and raise their GPA.

Standardized exams assess how much a person knows about a particular subject or in general. In addition, some scores, such as the PERT, determine which classes are suitable for a student.

Standardized examinations, such as the SAT and ACT, are required for applications. For example, dual enrollment and college admission.

Some examinations, such as the PSAT, are designed to assist students in preparing for a different standardized test.

Few other purposes of standardized testing are:

  • Assisting teachers' agenda
  • Selecting students for particular programs
  • Finding out students' strengths and weaknesses
  • Evaluating students' progress
Student answering multiple-choice questions
One of the reasons why standardized testing is good is that there is no discrimination. Everyone gets an equal chance to showcase their learning of a particular subject. (Source: Visual Hunt)
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Standardized Tests Pros And Cons

Almost every essential information about standardized tests has been discussed so far. This part here uncovers the many standardized tests pros and cons.

Advantages Of Standardized Testing

Here is a list of why standardized testing is good:

It Helps Detect Learning Impairments

Certain learning disorders, for example, dyslexia, can be easily identified by teachers. However, subject-specific deficits or hidden disabilities affect student learning but are difficult for teachers to uncover.

On the other hand, standardized tests can detect these flaws and indicate to teachers where learning gaps may exist for specific children. In exchange, pupils can be placed in personalized programs to remedy the deficiency or make concessions for the impairment to improve overall learning.

Equality

With standardized testing, every pupil gets the same chance to show what they have learned. Thus, students are evaluated on equal footing and on their merits.

Standardized exams set a universal standard for education.

Every Main Subject Is Prioritized

Many students find music and art more fun and exciting subjects than courses like math and English. However, with standardized tests, it becomes mandatory for students to focus on these, and they are evaluated accordingly to their learning capability.

Students understand how some subjects are critical to being successful. As a result, they are interested in those classes as they know they will help them in the future.

Measurable Progress

With the help of these testing can standardize individual students' educations. Students' progress over time is illustrated, and the patterns are pointed out.

Schools can use the data collected from standardized testing to improve their structure, activities, and instructional methods.

Sub-groups can be easily recognized on standardized tests, allowing schools to establish services and programs to help pupils enhance their educational possibilities. The purpose is to increase the testing scores that teachers and students can attain due to this.

Same tests yearly let pupils indicate and measure their progress.

Disadvantages To Standardized Testing

Everything comes with its good and bad side. Surely, you may have pondered, 'why is standardized testing bad?'

The disadvantages to standardized exams are:

Not Every Student Gets A Chance To Show Their Skills

Standardized examinations often underestimate the academic ability of English Language Learner (ELL) kids and pupils with special needs and are unfair to low-income students.

Even though testing accommodations are available, these examinations are still created with a specific student in mind. Thus, standardized test opponents claim that anyone who deviates from that ideal is at a loss.

Some students have exceptional learning abilities. However, when it comes to taking a test, the results provided by standardized examinations under-represent these industrious pupils. This is due to several factors:

  • Accommodations for standardized tests are exceptional. Some brilliant kids may be placed in remedial learning programs due to weak test-taking abilities
  • Some children process information at a slower rate when dealing with certain types of data
  • At times students have problems with working memory

A student's true potential cannot be based on these tests.

Students Confidence Can Be Shattered

Standardized testing causes pupils who are otherwise successful in losing faith in themselves and their talents.

Many students suffer from test anxiety, which means they don't perform at their best since the experience of taking a test is so overwhelming to them.

However, if low results demoralize pupils, evaluating a student's performance solely through an unbiased test can negatively impact graduation rates.

Predicted Test Patterns

Some students have an intuitive sense of patterns in standardized test answers. This problem is limited to multiple-choice answer tests, but it can still be a cause of concern.

According to the Brookings Institution, four out of every five children who improve their test scores apply little to no change in how they study. Those who design examinations include unexpected patterns that some pupils can spot.

If these patterns aren't changed, students can obtain high exam scores with little effort put into learning.

Future Success Is Not Guaranteed

A standardized test should, in theory, assess a student's learning potential.

After all, institutions that employ the ACT and SAT want students who will be successful on their campuses. On the other hand, opponents of these tests refer to evidence that says the ACT and SAT are not accurate indicators of collegiate achievement.

Demotivates Students And Teachers

According to The Washington Post, more than a dozen different school districts around the country have been detected trying to cheat on test scores.

Scandals involving multiple teachers and officials tainted students' learning, most notably in Atlanta, GA. It has even led to competent teachers quitting their jobs because they prefer to teach a subject rather than an exam.

It has become more about getting the perfect scores than learning.

True Potential Is Not Reflected

One of the leading causes for the United States' decline in global education rankings is that examinations, rather than topic learning, have become a focus for school systems.

Teachers are given raises based on their exam performance. Test scores were used to provide state and federal subsidies to school districts. Standardized testing has, in some ways, monetized the world's educational systems at the expense of children's education.

Teachers, rather than providing important material, teach how to take the test.

It's a ranking, not a ranking of quality. It's a value assessment based on the amount of data available.

Only One Component Of The Learning Process Is Evaluated

It is highly critical to learn core competencies.

Administrators, teachers, and parents can use standardized testing to determine where each child is on their learning path.

Other sorts of learning that may be a strength for some children are similarly underrepresented in these exams. For example, some students may have a high emotional intelligence quotient.

Others may have exceptional artistic or musical abilities. In addition, students may be resourceful or have excellent professional characteristics. Instead of looking at all aspects of learning competency, standardized testing focuses on just one.

All Students Are Not Given A Fair Chance

Standardized testing is based on the assumption that all pupils have attained the same level of education throughout their lives. Although it establishes a system of equity that spans all socioeconomic groups, it also shows a set of discrimination.

Students who have trouble understanding English, have undetected hearing or vision problems, or are inexperienced with computer technologies may have lower scores than they should.

Restricts Teachers

Another criticism is that relying too heavily on test data to assess student success hurts teachers' ability to execute their jobs.

A standardized test towards the end of the school year can cause a teacher's curricular plan to be disrupted, forcing them to cover content that isn't necessarily relevant to their students.

Similarly, many teachers believe that frequent testing throughout the year is ineffective and detrimental to student development.

Standardized Testing Generates Subjectivity In The Form Of Questions And Answers

Computer scoring can indeed diminish grade subjectivity. However, what computers can't do is remove the subjectivity of those who construct the test in the first place.

Even grading subjectivity could result in an unintended bias in the grading outcomes because the questions could be favoring a specific socioeconomic or ethnic group.

Student preparing for a standardized exam
Standardized tests are compulsory for higher education. Practicing for their tests helps with time management and lets the students know where they stand. (Source: Unsplash)

Appearing For Standardized Tests

To be prepared, it is recommended that you study for at least 10 hours. It's also a good idea to finish your studying one to six months before the test.

The content won't have time to sink in because it's been less than a month. After more than six months, you're likely to forget some of the information you learned earlier.

If you plan to prepare months before, make sure to keep revising and if you plan on getting on to the learning process last minute, be sure you can handle the pressure.

A few other pointers to keep on your fingertips when you appear for your test are:

  • Pace yourself
  • Mark answer sheet correctly
  • For essays, it is quality over quantity- focus on what you write, not how much you write
  • Learn structures and directions for the test beforehand
  • Stay calm and positive

Prepare For Standardized Tests With Superprof!

Are you planning to appear for the test? Let Superprof tutors help you prepare for the upcoming standardized exam.

Superprof instructors help you with your learning process and provide you with all the learning assistance required for the test. With our tutors, you will be prepped for the examination in no time!

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