The Use of Standardized Tests in College Admissions

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Ake-Little, Ethan S. “In Defense of Standardized Testing in College Admissions.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2019, p. A44.

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In his article “In Defense of Standardized Testing in College Admissions,” the writer on education policy Ethan Ake-Little speaks in favor of standardized tests SAT and ACT. He argues that these exams create equal opportunities for all graduates of all schools to enter technical schools, vocational schools, universities, and institutes. In addition, it is designed to structure and streamline the examination system in all states of the country.

The article claims a significant scale of grade inflation in colleges and universities in the United States. This is proved by the fact that that students’ academic performance may differ significantly from their exam results or even contradict them. The author characterizes the nature of admission processes of students and postgraduates to higher educational institutions as arbitrary. He does this because each educational institution has its independent criteria for evaluating student performance. The criteria for assessing knowledge of different teachers vary greatly; they largely depend on the professor’s personality, on their professionalism, tastes, preferences, and upbringing.

In connection with the above-mentioned facts, the author concludes that SAT and ACT lead to uniformity in assessing graduates’ knowledge and thereby make it more objective. The author also concludes that standardized exams lead to uniformity in assessing graduates’ abilities, making them more accurate. First of all, it is possible to organize centralized control, ensuring coverage of all the graduates. This, in turn, makes it possible to equalize the chances of admission to higher education for all applicants from different regions. Talented applicants from the farthest outback can compete with their peers in the capital without coming to the entrance exam thousands of kilometers away. Therefore, the chances of admission have significantly increased for all applicants in the country, especially from the provinces.

Despite the low level of education in more remote parts of the country, their residents are deprived of discrimination due to SAT and ACT and using the same textbooks. They can enroll in the most elite educational institutions of large cities (for example, New York and Los Angeles) just like everyone else’s. Standardized exams are valid throughout the country, which means that it does not matter where the applicant lives — in the capital, a small town, or a village. They will have the same chances of admission as everyone else.

Thus, Ake-Little concludes that the SAT and ACT have significant advantages, so this system should not be abandoned in favor of a portfolio, extracurricular activities, or elective exams. This is due to the main advantage of standardized exams: it is possible to open admission to prestigious universities of graduates from depressed regions. Thus, talented students who do not have the financial opportunity to take tests directly at the higher educational institution itself and prepare for them do not face any discrimination.

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Cai, Li. “Standardized Testing in College Admissions: Observations and Reflections.” Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, vol. 39, no. 3, 2020, pp. 34-36.

In his article “Standardized Testing in College Admissions: Observations and Reflections,” Li Cai advocates the modification of standardized exams. The researcher notes that, although education is conservative and reluctant to accept changes, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an acute need to revise the established order. He argues that the existing knowledge control system should be modified, and a new one should be developed, considering the current gaps. The scientist recognizes that it is necessary to combine the best elements of existing exams with recent developments.

First of all, Li Cai talks about the impact of the pandemic on the control of the level of knowledge of graduates. Due to the measures taken against the background of the epidemiological situation, it was necessary to make significant changes to the rules for passing exams. Upon subsequent return to the previously existing system, its numerous shortcomings were revealed, which the author notes. According to Li Cai, not all elements of the standardized exam are subject to modernization. He provides a list of practical components such as the universality and transparency of a standardized exam.

Nevertheless, the scientist notes that the framework is too strict and not designed for a creative approach. According to the author, the knowledge control system needs to be transformed so that it makes it possible to prepare for solving non-standard tasks. The researcher is convinced that only those applicants who can think in a standard and formulaic way pass these exams well. From the scientist’s point of view, preparing for a standardized exam does not develop creative thinking and oral communication skills. The main problems of the exam, in his opinion, are standardization and the introduction of the same approach for everyone instead of an individual one. He is also concerned about education being orientated on the speed of assessment and on the number of exams conducted to the detriment of their quality.

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For the above reasons, Li Cai is not a supporter of the standardized exam but suggests changing the system gradually. He proposes to deploy centers for independent assessment of the level of subject knowledge. In his opinion, it is also necessary to evaluate various types of literacy and the development of “soft skills” based on the created infrastructure in the future. This is due to the fact that exams should focus not on memorizing formulas and dates but on the ability to apply knowledge in practice. The scientist believes that universities themselves can establish and conduct additional tests for applicants of specific areas. He argues that the existing system has many flaws, but it can be improved and allow a vast number of school graduates to build their educational trajectory. This system can and should be improved, for example, through additional entrance tests.

At the end of the article, the author concludes that improving the knowledge control system requires solutions to solve difficulties. It is also necessary to preserve all the best accumulated over the years of the standard exams. Li Cai expresses the opinion that, probably, in the coming years, this system will be radically changed or even, for example, replaced by internal exams. Nevertheless, the author admits that it is pretty time-consuming to do this, given the complexity of organizing such large-scale educational events throughout the country.

Sulphey, Mahmoud, et al. “Relationship between admission grades and academic achievement.” Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Issues, vol. 5, no. 3, 2018, pp. 648-658.

In my opinion, the article by Mahmoud Sulphey et al., “Relationship between admission grades and academic achievement,” is a trustworthy database. The study presents an unbiased assessment of the correlation between the average score on final exams and applicants’ academic performance. The study analyzed the school grades of graduating classes enrolled in secondary school. Then it compares this data with the level of success of educational activities with grades for a standard exam in the relevant subjects.

In the course of the study, the average grade at school and for a standardized exam was recorded according to the results of each student. After comparing the middle grades of each student, it turned out that there were zero cases when the average rate for the exam exceeded their average school grade. The excess of qualities was observed in only five cases, which makes only ten percent of the total number of students. In most cases, the student’s school grades coincided with their grade for the exam. To solve the problem of identifying their interrelationship, the correlation coefficient of the annual assessment and the assessment for a standardized exam in individual subjects was calculated.

Particular attention should be paid to the patterns that can be traced about the following subjects: “Computer Science,” “Chemistry,” and “Physics” – they have the highest correlation coefficient. The lowest coefficient was found in the field of humanities (in particular, in the subject “Literature”). The results obtained indicate that the score for a standardized exam almost always reflects the level of academic success. There is a general trend of compliance (more than half of the cases) with the level of academic success of the exam results.

The study’s findings show the following trend: final school grades rarely exceed the results of a standard exam. They are either equal to the grade indicators (in most cases) or lower than them. The correlation of the level of academic success and the effectiveness of the exam showed the relationship and influence of academic success assessments on the result of a standard check. Thus, the correspondence of exam results and school grades may indicate the viability of this knowledge control system.

Works Cited

Ake-Little, Ethan S. “In Defense of Standardized Testing in College Admissions.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2019, p. A44.

Cai, Li. “Standardized Testing in College Admissions: Observations and Reflections.” Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, vol. 39, no. 3, 2020, pp. 34-36.

Sulphey, Mahmoud, et al. “Relationship between admission grades and academic achievement.” Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Issues, vol. 5, no. 3, 2018, pp. 648-658.

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ChalkyPapers. "The Use of Standardized Tests in College Admissions." September 16, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/the-use-of-standardized-tests-in-college-admissions/.