Standardized Tests Shouldn’t Be Used To Determine Intelligence


Carissa Ring, Author

Every year students are required to take tests such as the ACT or SAT. These test scores are used in the acceptance process for colleges, with most schools requiring certain scores to attend. Standardized tests are used to evaluate what the students “should” have learned throughout the school year. The scores of these tests are regularly used to determine the intelligence of an individual. Whether or not these tests should be used to determine your brilliance strikes up a lot of debate. 

The individuals that support the test argue that the test gives students the chance to show their intellect. If students are stuck with difficult teachers that make getting a good grade challenging, standardized tests give students time to prove their intelligence. Additionally, these tests help to showcase the growth of students throughout the years.

They argue that the tests are fair because all students of the same grade level receive the same questions. Aaron Churchill, Ohio Research Director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, stated, “At their core, standardized exams are designed to be objective measures. They assess students based on a similar set of questions, are given under nearly identical testing conditions, and are graded by a machine or blind reviewer. They are intended to provide an accurate, unfiltered measure of what a student knows.

These tests help to keep teachers and students accountable. Teachers feel more inclined to prepare their students for the test because the students’ scores on the test reflects onto the teachers ability to teach. If a teacher neglects to review required material, standardized tests will make that apparent. These tests also make sure that the student has been paying attention and absorbing information. 

Math teacher teaching her students.

People that are against standardized testing argue that a person’s intelligence shouldn’t be determined only by the tests. According to the National Education Association, “Results from a 2015 survey of more than 1500 NEA members teaching the grades and subjects required to be tested under No Child Left Behind (grades 3-8 and 10-12 in ELA and math) indicate that a vast majority of these educators – 70 percent – do not believe their primary state assessment is developmentally appropriate for their students”. Factors such as lack of sleep, lack of motivation, lack of language, limited time, and test anxiety can impair the students ability to excel on the test. 

The size of the test causes a lot of stress on students as well as simply being overwhelmed. According to Harvard Graduate Christina Simpson, “A survey of school psychologists in New York’s public schools found that 76 percent of respondents feel that test anxiety is higher for state assessments than it is for local assessments.” The limited amount of time given on the test can cause students not to finish or to rush a section, resulting in wrong answers. No matter how smart you are, these conditions can affect you negatively and damage your test scores. They also argue that the majority of the material they learn throughout the year isn’t present on the test, but instead it is something completely different. Instead of using standardized testing to determine

Student stressed out over standardized test.

Standardized testing should not be used to determine a person’s level of intelligence. Too many factors go into taking one single test and if those go wrong that will negatively impact your score. Many people just simply aren’t test takers. Not to mention the significance that this test has stresses many students out and makes them very anxious, affecting their ability to think properly. The limited time given on the test is also a large factor. Many people like to take their time and double check their answers on a test that will have this much of an impact. The time provided sometimes causes students to rush or guess, causing them to get the incorrect answer. A student’s intelligence should be judged as that student’s overall performance in school, not over one test.