The problem with standardized tests

February 24, 2016 Opinion

GRE_logo.svgIt is without a smidgen of humor or banter that I say I absolutely hated my senior year of high school.

Junior year was incredible, but it was similar to all the years of education that came before it. There was one thing that I loathed throughout this entire time—standardized testing.
Whether I was taking a statewide assessment such as the FCAT, or making the 7 a.m. drive to a neighboring high school to take the dreaded SAT, I disliked every standardized test.
Senior year of high school, in spite of its magical and fleeting essence, proved to be the boundary beyond which I would no longer be subjected to assessments that seemingly determined so much of my future.
Irrelevant to the premise of this op-ed, I was above adequate at standardized testing and most of the time did fairly well in spite of my vocalized loathing , which was echoed by my peers, and what I believe to be severe weakness in math.
To continue with my allusive memoir: I was ecstatic about the execution of administered academic examinations. Oddly enough, I began trying just a bit harder in school; surely you know the phenomenon well.
I asked my friend if I could borrow her SAT book. I looked at it exactly once, and now its outdated dusty pages sit on the shelf in my closet. From time to time, I wonder of how much its resell value has decreased over the years.
I decided I probably could afford to not sleep for the first hour of practice questions. It is with great pride that I reflect on my numerically-scored successes won by fighting off weariness. Awesome. At some point within senior year I had completed my last ‘prove-how-great-you-are-to-the-institution’ mission.
College is no different. The GRE has now become a fretted subject matter that I thought I could evade… alas; I was mistaken.
When I became a senior, I started to see Facebook statuses flooded with laments and monologues regarding the GRE.
At first I dismissed them as I had when I was in high school. I kept on ignoring the complaints because the only peers of mine I heard proclaiming the stresses of the GRE were majoring in hard science.
For me, my concern is getting published, leading, perfecting my craft, becoming fluent in theories, and all that great stuff.
If you haven’t been able to tell already, I am slowly revealing my absolute freaking ignorance to the fact that I actually had to take the GRE To me, the GRE and LSAT honestly became synonymous, as I rarely heard one referenced to without the other.
A friend in a similar major to mine told me that essentially I would have to take the GRE to go to grad school. Well, more than anything, it was surely a prompting catalyst to get the motivation ball rolling.
In the interest of completing grad school applications—due soon after—I started looking and re-looking over graduate programs at institutions and their prerequisites. Lo and behold, anteceding the colon, digits, and plus sign for every single program but one starred the irksome three-letter exam. The GRE had come back to haunt me.
GREeat. GREeat. GREEEEeat. (Is my sarcasm registering yet?)
The weekend that followed was the practice GRE, which I saw the aforementioned friend off to, and while I pondered over my not-so-immediate future as someone who is set on attending graduate school, I guess you could say I filled with rage.
Again? I would have to take another form of standardized testing?
For one, I was fairly upset that I was never really administered this crucial information. But not only that! I had to unwillingly accept the fact that the GRE was comprised of two central topics: Math and English.
Regardless of anyone’s fields of study and understanding, how could someone possibly be judged as adequate or inadequate for a graduate program solely on the evaluation of so few subject matters?
Outside of math and language studies, there are infinite other programs, such as those in the social sciences or fine and performing arts, that are not dependent on your memory of finding the area of an isosceles triangle. These types of standardized examinations are really just limited evaluations of intelligence that aim to define an individual from a select few hours of test-taking at some typically-too-early time of day.
This push for students to get the highest of degrees possible is inevitable in today’s society. An associate’s degree is simply not enough, and your bachelor’s just might not cut it anymore.
There remains the terrifying possibility that after toiling for your four—or more—years of undergrad, you may not successfully achieve the marks needed to get into your desired graduate program.
It could just be my own personal cynicism, but the importance graduate schools place on something not representative of one’s understanding and potential is completely crazy to me. A bad test score does not equate to a lack of talent or ability.

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