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Allison Polonsky
Mr. Davis
October 16, 2016
No Test is a Fair Test
All college bound students know that it takes more than a desire for higher education to
get accepted into a college of ones choice. In this day and age, one needs stellar grades, an
extensive resume and killer SAT/ACT scores. However, opportunities to achieve these
necessities are not equally available for every American high school student. Not only are all
schools not created equal and all students not have the same free time to devote to developing a
resume of attractive extracurricular activities, but the use of standardized testing, particularly, can
have an imbalanced impact on various societal groups. This nation, which prides itself on having
a motto that all men are created equal should not stand by and allow unequal opportunity for
higher education. Standardized tests should be abolished as a means of assessing students in the
college admission process because they create an unneeded economic burden on society, they are
unfair to those of lower socio-economic class, particularly minorities, and they do not accurately
predict college preparedness.
Standardized tests, in general, and as part of college admissions process, in particular,
create an unneeded economic burden on the society and the public. Standardized testing is not
new and the ongoing use and focus on the use of standardized tests to assess student and school
performance has particularly grown since No Child Left Behind Act. Unfortunately, this is
now a tremendous financial and temporal burden for the public and the school systems. The
average American student in a public school takes approximately 112 mandatory standardized
tests between pre-kindergarten and the end of 12th grade an average of about eight a year
that eats up between 20 and 25 hours every school year (Strauss). Instead of focusing on the
academic preparation, schools spend time teaching to the test. Similar problem exists with

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college assessment tests. In order to do well, students must get ready by studying special testpreparation books or taking courses aimed at raising test scores. Studies have shown that this
extra preparation works, however the down side is the extreme economic burden this creates,
that has been estimated to be as much as $20 billion annually in direct payments to testing
companies and in indirect expenditures of time and resources. (Haney) Instead of spending this
money on real academic pursuits, students and their families are spending time and money again,
studying to the test, in order to be competitive on college applications. Individual families
often contribute more than $1,000 on test preparation. (Peligri) Not only is preparing for tests
costly, but the tests themselves have registration fees, usually about $60 per test, which add up if
the student takes multiple tests as recommended for success. Standardized testing, in general and
as it relates to college admissions, particularly, creates an unneeded economic burden on society
and the public, benefiting only the test preparation companies that collect fees for their
preparation and administration.
Standardized testing is especially burdensome and unfair to the lower socio-economic
classes, particularly the minority groups. Not only is the $1,000 cost of preparation for the tests
is prohibitive for most lower income families, multiple studies over the years, from IQ to college
achievement, have shown that this group, particularly if it includes minorities, underperforms,
because the tests are inadvertently culturally biased against them. For example, Annie E. Casey
Foundation found that the gap for achievement test scores between rich and poor have grown by
almost 60% since the 1960s and is now almost twice as large as the gap between white students
and children of other races. (Rooks) The poor, many of whom are minorities, often live in areas
where schools do not have the resources available in the middle or upper class areas, nor do the
children often have the advantage of well-educated parents that can provide additional education

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at home. The results show similar disparity for the college assessment tests. In 2003, the
Harvard Educational Review published an article by Roy Freedle that claimed bias against
African American students in the SATs. The Educational Testing Service (ETS), the agency
responsible for the development of the SAT, was critical of this work. However, since then, two
additional researches confirmed the same findings in the verbal part of the test, even after
addressing ETSs concerns, and they urged the testing industry to study this phenomenon
(Santelices). United States is a culturally diverse nation and to assume that our cultural and
socio-economic differences have no effect on results of tests that depend on ability to interpret
written word seem fallacious. In addition, other researchers have noted that when colleges select
students based on tests, they pick students from a narrow applicant pool of those with high test
scores and that it is not an accident that nearly 79 percent of students at the most prestigious
institutions of higher learning come from the top economic quartile of American society. (Hope)
These students not only have the advantage of going to better schools and having better educated
parents, but they also have additional financial resources to prepare for the standardized tests,
which may cost multiple thousands of dollars. Therefore, standardized testing does not equalize
students, as intended, but instead penalizes those of lower socio-economic status, and may be
particularly biased toward minorities.
In addition, to being potentially biased and a financial burden, standardized tests have not
been proven to be successful in predicting intelligence and college preparedness. In fact, recent
research has showed that the SAT and ACT are potentially poor predictors of college success.
According to Boundless Psychology, standardized tests don't measure factors like motivational
issues or study skills, which are also important for success in school and that predicting college
success is most reliable when a combination of factors is considered, rather than a single

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standardized test score (Controversies). Tests often focus on specific facts and do not evaluate
intelligence and ability to learn. A new study published in the journal Intelligence noted that
there is now more and more evidence that students are becoming better at standardized test
taking, but not necessarily becoming any smarter (Olsen). Therefore, again, high scores on
standardized tests can be a result of spending a great deal of time learning to the test and do
not reflect the persons actual intelligence and general ability to learn and do well at institutions
of higher learning. As with most things in life, success in college depends on multiple factors,
including passion for the subject studied, maturity, hard work and ability to think critically; little
to none of these are assessed for in standardized tests.
Some have argued that standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, are necessary,
because they help to account for disparities between different schools and therefore are a better
predictor of students future college success. However, the tests neither equalize students, nor
are they accurate in predicting future success. The proponents of testing ignore the fact that
SATs and ACTs can be prepared for, but unlike a good GPA which can be obtained in a free
public school, the standardized test preparation, which is known to improve test scores, is not
accessible to all for free. Gladwell writes, when describing Kaplan, the first educator, who began
teaching how to succeed at SATs, In proving that SAT was coachable, Kaplan did something
else, of even greater importance. He undermined aptitude tests as a means of social
engineering. (Gladwell) McGinty concurs, Those extra points could improve the chance of
being admitted to coveted school, and higher scores may also increase the dollar amount of
merit-based scholarships. Different studies over the years have shown that coaching can improve
performance. (McGinty) There is a proven record of close to 100 years, that test preparation
works and it can affect not only results of the test, but may also have potential long term effect

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on the students socio-economic status. However, because preparation is not equally available to
all due to high cost, instead of equalizing perspective college students, standardized testing
actually does the opposite. In addition, the argument that testing can better show students
college preparedness is also fallacious. Various studies have shown that not only college entrance
exams, but all types of standardized testing does not predict success and intelligence.
Researchers at MIT, Harvard and Brown recently tracked more than 1,400 students and found
that better test scores were not associated with fluid intelligence, those skills necessary for
logical thinking and problem solving. They only measured knowledge of facts. (Bindwell) In
addition, in a recent publication edited by Bryfornski that focused on efficacy of standardized
testing in measuring student achievement, the authors concluded that these types of tests
primarily focus on superficial thinking and not students analytical ability. (Bryfornski) Realizing
that this is in fact the case, More than 800 colleges and universities across the country no longer
mandateSAT or ACT. Colleges and universities recognize that neithermeasure what students
most need to succeed in higher education. (SAT) The evidence is irrefutable, standardized
testing does not equalize students and is ineffective in predicting students success. Even some
of our nations best institutions of higher learning agree.
Standardized testing, as a means of assessing students for college admission was
developed to equalize the students in the eyes of the assessors, as there is often great variation
between high schools, and therefore grade point average (GPA) may not be sufficient to compare
students. However, what was meant to be an equalizer actually ended up separating students by
socio-economic class, as scores can be improved when a great deal of money is spent to prepare
for the tests, something that poor individuals cannot afford. The problem is compounded for
minorities, as it has been proposed that these tests may have a racial bias. Even for those that are

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able afford additional education needed to achieve high scores, the overall societal financial
burden that is incurred to prepare and administer these tests runs in the billions of dollars
annually and benefits primarily the test taking industry. Finally, it is yet unclear if standardized
tests accurately predict students abilities to succeed in college and therefore the entire premise
that these tests are of any use is yet to be proven. Therefore, standardized testing should be
abolished as a means of assessing students in the college admission process as it creates an
unneeded economic burden on society, is unfair to those of lower socio-economic class,
particularly minorities, and it does not accurately predict college preparedness.

Work Cited
Haney, Walter et al. The Fractured Marketplace for Standardized Testing.
Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1993. Print
Harris, Philip et al. Standardized Tests Do Not Effectively easure Student Achievement.
Standardized Testing. Ed. Dedria Bryfornski. Greenhaven Press, 2012. Print.
Bindwell, Allie. Study: High Standardized Test Scores Dont Translate to Better
Cognition. US News. U.S. News & World Report. 13 Dec. 2013. Web.
08. Sept. 2016.

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Controversies in Intelligence and Standardized Testing. Boundless Psychology. Boundless, 26
May 2016. Web. 19 Sept. 2016
Gladwell, Malcolm.Examined Life: What Stanley H. Kaplan taught us about the S.A.T. The
New Yorker. Conde Nast, 17 Dec. 2001. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
Hope, Eternal. The SATs Anti-Semitic Roots. Daily Kos. Kos Medica, LLC, 19 Mar. 2014.
Web. 15 Sept. 2016.
McGinty, Jo Craven. Do SAT Prep Courses Help Test Takers? The Wall Street Journal. Dow
Jones & Company, 1 May 2015. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
Olson, Sandra. Standardized Tests Dont Reveal How Smart You are. Rawstory. N.p. 2 Mar.
2015. Web. 15 Sept. 2016
Peligri, Justin. No, the SAT is not required. More colleges join test-optional
train. US News. U.S. News & Worl Report. 07 Jul. 2014. Web.
08 Sept. 2016.
Rooks, Noliwe. Why Its Time to get rid of Standardized Tests. Time. Time Inc, 11 Oct. 2012.
Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
SAT, ACT No Longer Required for Admission To 800 U.S. Colleges and Universities.
Huffington Post. 06 Apr. 2015. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.

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Santelices, Maria et al. Unfair Treatment? Harvard Educational Review. Harvard Education
Publishing Group, Sept. 2010. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.,-the-sat,-and-the-standardizat
Strauss, Valerie. 13 Ways High-stakes Standardized Tests Hurt Students. The Washington
Post. The Washington Post, 11 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.