Why Do We Even Have Tests?

Onovu Otitigbe-Dangerfield, Staff Writer

Its that time of year again, folks! Testing season. From APs to SATs to Regents we are in for a “treat” as test season is fast approaching. I’m sure you’re assuming this is going to be another basic article about the best way to prepare for your tests and perform to your best ability. You’ve all heard the classic advice. Go to sleep early, wear red (it helps you concentrate), eat a healthy breakfast, and pace yourself. Out of my compassionate heart, I won’t put you through an article of that nature.

However, a common question on the minds of today’s standardized test takers is WHY??? Why take such trivial tests such as the SATs, that can be the determining factor between whether or not you are accepted into the college of your choice? Why does the Board of Education feel as though it is a good idea to have multiple AP’s in a row, with the knowledge that some individuals take more than one? Most importantly, why should you care?

As part of an incentive to increase the playing performance of the Albany High School Orchestra, director Kelly Diehl has decided to enact weekly or biweekly playing tests. It forces the students who neglect practicing to practice, but it has also become a way to induce stress on what everyone assumes is supposed to be an easy 100 class. In casual conversation, Ms. Diehl expressed that we have become accustomed to self-induced stress whenever the word “test” is used. She expressed this as a means to calm our nerves as the “test” wasn’t anything to stress about. I expressed this anecdote for a reason though.

Without any of us realizing it, tests have become such an integral aspect of the modern educational system, renowned for the uneasiness and panic they place on students. The obvious reason that we are subjected to tests is simple: to see how much content we have grasped from our teachers. Thoughtco.org expresses it as an “objective measure of student performance”. However, this cycle of teach, review, test, and repeat has the ability to limit curriculum, and increase student anxiety.

In spite of this, tests can be utilized as a means to receive college credit and test student merit as well as serve to determine award and recipient recognition, measure the effectiveness of the teachers, and identify student weaknesses and strengths.

As much as we dread it, no one has come up with a better solution to monitor student growth and evaluate how students are being taught, and there are some very valid points as to why test-taking is important. I mean, would you want to base the abilities of a neurosurgeon on their sheer merit or a perfect score on their MCAT exam? Test-taking extends beyond the walls of school, and at the moment serves as one of the most efficient ways to determine an individual’s knowledge. There are, of course, many who are geniuses at heart, but horrible test takers. I’m sorry to say we haven’t found an alternative for you yet.

Could it be implemented less frequently or could we develop new methods of test taking? Sure, why not. For many computer science majors, their “test” involves on-the-spot coding. The world is open to as many possibilities as you present. So at the moment, we just have to suck it up, sit in those desks and take those tests.

On that note, I wish everyone a happy testing season. May the odds be in your favor!