studentThere’s a lot of controversy about standardized testing, particularly the SAT. There’s even a group, Fair Test, that has been trying to negate the value of the SAT in particular for years. That said, the tests are probably here to stay in one form or another – making primarily cosmetic changes to counter criticisms. (The last major change in the SAT in 2005, may have almost doubled the testing fee; however, it also precipitated the surge of ACT test-takers.)

Do you understand why there is a need for standardized college entrance exams? If not, let’s look at this way – do all teachers at your teen’s school have the same standards for giving out grades? Of course not. That said, schools vary, counties vary, and states vary. Therefore, a standardized gauge – a college entrance exam – is necessary to measure critical reading, thinking and the problem solving skills that are necessary for college.

That’s why we often see a schism between GPA and test scores, especially with the overachiever and/or non ‘reader’. In my 35 years of offering test preparation I have rarely, if ever, worked with a student who was a ‘reader’ who did not get a high score on either the ACT or SAT. (Those types of students merely need ‘tweaking’ and validation of their already strong skill sets.)

Here’s some interesting background, beginning in the 1960’s, GPA’s began to rise and SAT scores began to drop. It all started during the Vietnam War with professors at universities who chose to give a B- rather than a C+; as any student who did not maintain at least a B average would lose his draft deferment. This then trickled down to the high school level. (Compound that with the mass popularity of technology, reading is not a first choice past time for most adolescents.)

I often ask what does an “A” mean when the latest studies say that about 40% of students graduate high school with straight A’s. When I went to school it was probably less than 5%!

I hope I didn’t bore you, but some background was necessary for you to appreciate the intrinsic value of the college entrance exams. In my years of test preparation, I do know that the SAT in particular tests efficient reading, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Are these skills importance for college and career success? All the studies say, ‘yes’. (FYI, these are the skills the avid reader inadvertently has developed.) These are also the skills I have taught for years that provide the requisite foundation for test taking confidence and higher scores and ultimately college and career success.

YOUR TURN: Do you think that college entrance exams are necessary?

photo credit Imagery Magestic via

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