Once again, it’s that time of the year when every student's schedule seems to be a little busier, the workload a little heavier, and the all-nighters a little more frequent. Final exams are just around the corner and that is for most students a source of anxiety and depression, especially with the very narrow definition of success that many people have in mind.
In any process of education, ability has to be assessed at some time. In recent years, however, the existing structure of the examination system has been increasingly criticized, with many arguing that the results are skewed and inaccurate. While standardized testing can identify struggling students who seek help, or gifted students for possible advancement, the question of whether they actually help or hurt students is still being debated.
Tests like the SAT and ACT are given to see how well-prepared you are for college. They by no means serve as an indication of how smart you actually are. You are so much more complex. Your intelligence can’t be measured by test scores and grades. Having good test scores can make you stand out from other applicants, but don’t forget that colleges look at your application holistically. Other aspects of your application matter too. Your personal essay and extracurricular activities will help you attend your dream school too!
Exams put a lot of weight on the shoulders of students. Stress, anxiety, and fear are all very common in today’s youth as a consequence of that grueling exam preparation and teachers’ pressure on students, who may end up teaching to the test instead of trying to give students a deeper understanding of the topic. Headaches and late nights make studying become a hassle, which can lead to negative health consequences as well as feelings of despondency.
Standardized tests cannot measure what a student learned and how they can make use of it in the real world by having them write a test that briefly covers the different units of study. It only evaluates the individual performance instead of the overall growth of that student over the course of the year.
I believe that assessments are truly useful when they’re used to improve the quality of teaching and learning. They become problematic and harmful when they’re used to judge a student’s natural abilities and intelligence.
Don’t forget to put your mental and physical health first, above pulling all-nighters trying to cram information into your head. While I encourage everyone to study hard (and most importantly, in advance), in order to avoid that last-minute stress, please don’t do it at the expense of your health. YOU come first!