Nowadays, almost each sphere of life undergoes certain changes and improvements, which are not always properly understood by society, and the sphere of education is not an exception. In order to improve students’ perception of information, check their levels of knowledge, and choose the best educative programs, teachers try to present more and more strategies to explain the material, to check students, and to work on and improve students’ mistakes.
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Modern standardized tests, aimed at evaluating students’ level of knowledge and readiness to study new material, are considered to be one of the quickest ways to check how a student learns the material, what he/she knows, and how he/she is going to use this material in future. However, there are many disadvantages concerning these tests, which are not always mentioned from the very beginning.
On my opinion, standardized tests like SAT, CAPT, MCAT, or CMT are full of disadvantages, which deprive students of the opportunity to achieve good results and demonstrate their abilities; the cons like inability to demonstrate students’ creative thinking, necessity to use certain facts and give the answers within a certain period of time, and indifference to such factors like gender, cultural and social variety, and language barriers make be doubt about these tests’ effectiveness and the ability to evaluate students’ knowledge.
On the one hand, the idea to use standardized tests like SAT, CAPT, or MCAT is really brilliant: students have several options to choose from in order to give answers, they do not have to spend much time on writing, and teachers can easily check students’ works by comparing these papers with another paper, where already correct answers are marked. What can be better? People improve educational process and make it simple and quick.
On the other hand, I cannot agree that all these standardized tests are so helpful and fair to each student. Nowadays, many students come from different countries in order to improve their English or other foreign language, study the material on higher level, and get an opportunity to find good job.
Standardized tests may check the level of these students from one perspective without paying certain attention to students’ background knowledge, language barriers, which may exist, and differences between students’ statuses (Topper 2001). I think that it is not correct to evaluate students’ abilities by means of standardized tests only, because these tests cannot say much about person’s desire to study, his/her attempts to learn the material, challenges, and other problems.
Of course, it is necessary to create one system that will be able to define who is ready to the chosen academic institution and who has to be trained more. Unfortunately, not every standardized test is accompanied with proper creative assignment that will allow a student to demonstrate his/her interests, preferences, and abilities. And the results of these tests turn out to be influential for “many lives, sometimes profoundly” (Zwick 22).
Many students believe that their future and their education depend considerably on the results of these standardized tests. They spend days and nights preparing for such tests, and, in order to succeed, they do not read many informative sources and do not analyze the material but concentrate more on the requirements, they have to meet, while completing the tests, and the time, they have in order to give the answers.
While completing standardized tests, students face one more challenge – time limitations. Now, it is not enough to mark the necessary letter or number, but it is also crucially important to put the final mark dead on time. Teachers pay much attention to this point and require each student to finish their writing in time.
I cannot comprehend how it can be enough to give the answer when the war was begun and when it was ended in order to realize the essence of the war, its consequences, and influence on people’s future and past. In such cases, standardized tests may demonstrate students’ abilities to memorize dates but not to analyze the effects of the event.
After a thorough check of testing systems in many American colleges and universities, it has been cleared up that there are “incorrectly scored thousands of the College Board’s SAT tests” (Winerip para. 2). Such results demonstrate that even such simple and effective strategies may go wrong and upset or even confuse thousands of students.
The answers have been analyzed incorrectly, language barriers have not been taken into account, social status of students has not considered at all, and background knowledge has not been checked thoroughly – these are the results of standardized tests and evaluation of students’ abilities.
The idea to use standardized tests in order to check how students comprehend the material in accordance with one common standard has many disadvantages. All these standardized tests cannot evaluate students’ level of knowledge properly, taking into consideration own potential and interests.
Standardized tests do not take into consideration the level of background knowledge and language barriers, which may lead to wrong understanding of the assignment. This is why to achieve good results with standardized tests, it is necessary to take into account all these factors and provide students with a chance not only to give correct answers within a short period of time, but also think creatively and logically.
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Topper, Dianna. “Examining the Motives behind Standardized Tests.” Social Education 65. 5. National Council for the Social Studies, 2001.
Winerip, Michael. “Standardized Tests Face a Crisis Over Standards.” The New York Times. (22 Mar. 2006). 15 Nov. 2009 <https://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/22/education/22education.html>
Zwick, Rebecca. Rethinking the SAT: the Future of Standardized Testing in University Admissions. New York, NY: Routledge, 2004. Print.