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Do colleges put too much stock in standardized test scores?
Let's say we have Jim and Amy, two high school students.
Jim is an average student. He wants to get into college. What should he focus on most? How does he get into that good school he's been dreaming of attending?
Jim starts talking to his high school counsellor. The man is very knowledgeable and has helped hundreds of students get into their dream schools. Jim begins following his counsellor's advice and focuses on preparing for the SATs. Coming from a rich family he affords to learn all the tricks, he practices answering questions in any format, he takes the standardized tests again and again until he gets a very, very high score. Jim is satisfied with himself, knowing full well that his effort will definitely pay off.
Jim begins preparing his application. He proudly encloses his hard earned standardized test scores. The rest of the application is a breeze, he buys several college essays off the Internet and chooses the very best. He sends the envelope, feeling proud that he's on his way to college. Boy, he will definitely enjoy his summer!
Amy is a very talented student. She was a member of the debate club ever since 9th grade, she is active in many student organizations, she constantly provides fresh content for the school paper. She spends at least 2 hours every day reviewing what was taught and preparing for the next day. Every Saturday she flips burgers at a fast-food restaurant, trying to save enough money to buy herself a better guitar.
Surely, Amy aims high and starts preparing for the standardized tests. She aces all the subjects necessary for knowledge of the subjects being tested. Being an active debater she struggles to compose an awesome essay as well. She takes the SAT only once because she cannot afford a re-test. Despite her very best efforts, her scores are only slightly above average. She is angry because she knows full well how much she studied the subject matter.
She sends the average test results, the great essay, documents her extracurricular activities. Still she worries. Her test results don't seem to be a reflection of her hard work. Her summer is spent at home, every day checking the mailbox for a reply.
Meanwhile, at College X, the admission committee assembles. They carefully review the application files of many, many students applying to their competitive college. They work hard and manage to fill all but one place. They have a tough decision ahead of them. Jim or Amy?
They of course hold a debate, they put everything in balance, Amy's love for extracurricular activities, Jim's near perfect essay, Amy's good grades, Jim's AMAZING test results, Amy's average test results, Amy's highly argumentative essay. It's a tough decision but the last place goes to Jim. His near perfect test scores reflect his superiority.
Jim learned how to take the test, while Amy studied for the test. At the end of the day, the better test taker won.
Do you think colleges put too much stock in standardized test scores?
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