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The Evils of Standardized Testing

Updated on September 17, 2009


Show what you do not know
Show what you do not know

Scantron Grievances

Many college professors use the scantron format for exams. Some college students do not have issues with this style of testing and are usually the type that would prefer not to study as intensively as a particular course may require. The scantron allows this flaw to remain. Another grouping of students whom do study extensively disagree with this examination procedure on the grounds of doing a disservice to not only themselves but all students, future employers, and those to be affected by their career choice.

This standardized testing comes across as juvenile. As children, we were taught using this format to ensure every child learned the basics. As adults we have the opportunity and the brain capacity to enhance our knowledge. We are no longer learning elementary fundamentals but advanced concepts that require more than what is given in a standardized test. Some intellectuals take offense in being tested like an adolescent.

There is a decidedly unfair advantage given to those who did not study extensively. Typically there are two or more ridiculous answers, leaving only two final options as a possible correct choice. This situation gives those apathetic towards studying the possibility of obtaining a grade close to those students who took the initiative to prepare. They are also at a disadvantage of their own making. By not forcing themselves to grow intellectually, these students are wasting their potential. This, in turn, affects future employers and those connected to their prospective careers. All employers are searching for the best candidates to fill positions in their company. Their goal of increasing their capital will be limited by their employee's weaknesses.

Scantron testing displays what students do not know instead of what they do know. No credit is given for those areas they did know, only that they got the final answer incorrect. The question or answer choices may have been poorly worded, the student may have gotten the right answer but bubbled in the wrong choice on the answer sheet, or there may have been a mark on the scantron that made the grading machine count the answer as incorrect. Some of these instances are out of the student's control and therefore should not be punished by a decrease in their final score.

Scantrons allow easier access to cheating. Filling in five bubble choices is infinitely more effortless than copying another's essay. Scholastic dishonesty would be unable to flourish or at least fewer students would get away with it. It is apparent when a student has copied another's dissertation, unlike one who has only filled in the same bubbles.

The actual test format is decisively unrealistic. Our schooling is preparation for encountering real world complications. An employer will not give his employees a dilemma and four possible explanations with only one of them being correct. In many cases, there is more than one possible solution for the issue at hand. However, an employer will not gift-wrap the solution for two reasons: (1) he does not know the solution and is relying on his staff more educated in the area of expertise to provide one or (2) he expects his personnel to be competent enough to formulate a solution without his involvement.

There is an obvious solution to these grievances; do away with scantron testing. Using open-ended questions forces the students to know the material from all angles and encourages them to actively study. This also provides feedback for the instructor on how well the students are absorbing the material and what areas need more work. It allows students to show their thinking process and the capacity of what they have learned.

A major reason professors use scantron testing is the efficient grading process. They acquire all their students test results in a matter of minutes instead of the hours it would take grading open-ended questions. Department finances should be set aside to hire graders to assist the professors with the paperwork. They could even hire graduate students part-time to help cut the cost.

This guesswork ideology is an injustice to the education system whose principles include the belief that knowledge is infinite and obstructing its obtainment is a crime. With the prohibition of scantron testing, graduates would be more capable of real world problem solving in personal and professional aspects.

Your Preference

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    • TCDesign profile image

      TCDesign 6 years ago from Southern California

      As a student and an educator, I strongly dislike scantron tests. I agree that it does not highlight what students actually know, rather, just their ability to fill pick the correct answer (which they have a 1 in 5 chance of doing). I think essay tests are dreadful but they are how instructors can really assess what their students have in fact learned.

      Greta hub!