Editorial: Are standardized tests accurate at scoring academic intelligence and success?

Editorial: Are standardized tests accurate at scoring academic intelligence and success?

Vivek Gundani, Staff Writer

Standardized tests have been around in schools for decades, but do they actually prove the intelligence of an individual? It’s known that students who study a lot are prone to do better on exams. Standardized tests, for the most part, grade students on correctness. For example, a math test, if you get the answer wrong, it’s wrong–but does that really determine how smart someone is? When boiled down, the purpose of these tests are supposed to prove how intelligent students are, but that’s not how intelligence should be measured. Intelligence should really be measured through real-life problem solving skills and the other skills that a person has.

Standardized tests revolve around remembering specific parts of the curriculum and solving specific problems within a finite amount of time. Having good memory and the ability to understand many different concepts is a good skill, but a person’s inability to have those skills does not make them less intelligent than a person who does. Anxiety is often caused by having to take one of these tests. A study by PSU states, “So, students are not just genetically bad test takers. In fact, their inability to do well on tests has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with test anxiety. Based on research, 40-60% of students admit to having test anxiety at some point or another and around 38% record having it all the time ”(Morton), showing that a lot of students who understand the curriculum, and who studied and prepared for the test can still do poorly because of the pressure they feel. 

The anxiety before and during taking a test affects a students’ memory capacity since more brain capacity goes towards fueling their anxiety, rather than aiding them in taking the test. Real intelligence comes from problem solving in the real world, along with using different skills and techniques to solve said problems. If an architect, for example, is trying to decide what material would be best for a specific structure, they shouldn’t rely on whatever they learned from taking a test but rather their own intuition. They would produce better results going off everything they have learned and gathered, rather than the few things they had to rigorously study in order to get their position. 

Exams aren’t exactly good for determining whether a student would be successful in a career choice. A student who doesn’t do well on a math test isn’t suddenly someone who is unfit to be a math teacher. Understanding the curriculum is important, but making an assumption based on the fact that they failed a test, shouldn’t mean that they can’t teach the curriculum considering test taking anxiety and other factors that can hinder someone’s ability while taking a test. 

Tests shouldn’t be completely disregarded, but the main point is that standardized tests do not fully determine a person’s intelligence or how successful they can be in the future. The best way to determine those things is going off of a person’s unique skills and their ability to problem solve in a real world scenario. This is something tests cannot definitively determine.