If you expect to be college-bound in the United States, you are essentially required to take either, or both, the ACT or the SAT standardized tests. Your scores on these determine not only if you gain entrance into the university of your choice, but also whether or not you’re worth any money to them. Does anyone else see a problem with that? First of all, I want to remind you that you aren’t defined by numbers. Not now, not ever. Your GPA and SAT score do NOT determine your worth. Secondly, I have major beef with standardized college entrance exams, and so does Einstein. He once declared, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” And that’s exactly what these tests do to high schoolers.
While we’re on the subject of Einstein, he also believes that, “What is tested does count, but much of what counts cannot be tested.” With this in mind, think about what is being tested: your ability to memorize information and regurgitate it within a certain time period. These exams aren’t looking at what actually matters. Involvement at school and leadership experience should take precedence over test scores because colleges should want someone who is going to contribute to their communities outside of the classroom. If I were admitting students, I would accept and give scholarship to someone who was committed to community service, played on a team, and served as a leader in high school over someone with a perfect ACT/SAT. Why? That student has proven that she can manage her time in a way that allows her to truly succeed. GPA and standardized tests measure your obedience, not your aptitude.
Now, let’s take a look at what these scores are supposed to predict. Most schools believe how well you do on the ACT determines how well you’re going to do in college, but they don’t take into account your interest in the subject matter. Countless high schoolers are bored out of their minds learning proofs and vocabulary, but once they go to college and study things they actually care about, they excel, more so than they ever did in the first thirteen years of their education.
Some colleges are moving away from requiring standardized tests for admittance, and that’s a step in the right direction. Hopefully as more research comes out, an increasing amount of universities will follow in those footsteps. Evaluating a student holistically and looking at his leadership, community service, high school involvement, etc. is much more likely to determine true success in college. Students who plug in quickly are the ones who will thrive, and graduate, from the first university they enroll in. Let’s stop having fish climb trees and get away from this barbaric practice of defining people by numbers.