/BY JULIA WENGIER
It’s exam season, and whether students are studying for a final, AP exam, EOC, SAT or ACT, they are doing so to ensure they receive high scores. The modern-day student’s success is measured by their exam scores. Comprehension of advanced placement classes is measured by AP exams, and many other classes have a final or EOC. Colleges won’t consider accepting a student if they don’t have sufficient SAT or ACT scores, even if their grades and extracurricular activities convey academic involvement.
The dependence of American schools on examinations favors students who are talented in the STEM fields and those who have developed test-taking skills that are necessary to pass. This is also due to the American school system’s emphasis on science and math, which many people’s minds (where the “right-brain” is superior) are not fit to learn. Those wanting to pursue the arts are left in the dark when it comes to FSA examinations, math EOCs, the math and science portion of the ACT and the math portion of the SAT.
This focus on STEM is also due to the abundance of job opportunities in this field. If a person has trouble wrapping their head around math and science, but is incredibly proficient in language or the arts, they will struggle to find an occupation and will be treated as if they aren’t intelligent.
Those wanting to pursue the arts are left in the dark.
People who are somewhat skilled in the STEM field can easily find jobs to accommodate their abilities, but people who are somewhat skilled in the arts can struggle to find the right job for them, as there are so few and competition is high. It’s difficult to want to be an author, for example, because success is measured by the amount of people who buy your books. Those who are passionate for language and the arts are often dismissed.
This is reflected in exams that students have to take. Mainly, these exams force students who focus their attention on the arts to demonstrate proficiency in math, but don’t force students who focus on math to demonstrate proficiency in the arts. Therefore, the U.S. education system considers math and science as necessary subjects to master in order to be successful and intelligent. Creativity is neglected, and those who are incredibly talented in this area still suffer from thoughts that they aren’t intelligent.
Modern-day standardized tests also require certain test-taking skills that many people do not have. Even if they are knowledgeable about a certain subject, a person could get low test scores just from questions designed to trick students.
For example, a student can be comfortable with and proficient in biology, but get confused by a trick question about the biomass of a population that also includes unnecessary information about their anatomical systems. A time limit being present also discriminates against those who need more time to think deeply but will get the correct answer.
Exams force students who focus their attention on the arts to demonstrate proficiency in math, but don’t force students who focus on math to demonstrate proficiency in the arts.
The SAT, ACT and AP exams all have time limits enacted that don’t provide sufficient time to confidently come to the right answer. This can be detrimental to students who need time to think of their response to a question or determine the best strategy to go about a problem.
Exams are stressful for students, whether it be an AP exam or the SAT. The scores students receive determine their future, including where they go to college and what classes they will have to take. Some, such as EOCs and the 10th grade ELA FSA, determine whether students can graduate.
While standardized tests are effective in measuring comprehension for some students, in many instances this is not the case. It is unfair to students who aren’t praised for their talents, or who can’t adjust to the structures of today’s exams. These students will often be told or feel as if they aren’t intelligent, when in reality the system is discriminating against different types of minds.
Photo by The Lariat