College Matters: Standardized testing teaches how to take a test

Since freshman year, the dreaded three-hour long SAT and ACT have always loomed in the distance.

Come junior year, the tests were no longer things of the future. As I began preparation, I quickly realized that I already knew the material I was going to be tested on.

But the fact that I knew the material was besides the point. I had absolutely no idea how to take the tests.

Complaining to some of my friends, I learned that many had spent the previous summer taking classes and practice tests to prepare.

So by the time I started, I was already behind. As the year progressed, I kept resolving to start studying.

But every weekend, I had more pressing, more relevant things to attend to.

It seemed pointless to spend time studying how to take tests. If I was going to spend hours studying, I would much rather learn something.

When I sat down to take my first standardized test I really hadn’t spent too much time preparing. Which of course resulted in my getting a score I wasn’t too pleased with.

Junior year ended with my avoiding taking any more of the dreaded exams.

But my college counselor encouraged me to give it another try.

“I have better ways to spend my time than study for the SAT or ACT,” I vented to my father.

He tried to explain to me that I had to do it to complement the other work I had done.

Determined to stick to my moral ground and convinced that the College Board was out to get me, I declared that if a college was going to reject me based on my standardized test scores, then I didn’t want to go to that college.

Of course, come senior year my resolve crumbled a bit.

A week before I was scheduled to take the ACT, I decided I really should study.

So I sifted through a review book larger than any other textbook I had and tried to solve a couple problems.

Saturday morning I drove to St. Francis High School, muttering curses at the people who wrote the tests.

I could not have been more relieved, when, three hours later, I walked out of the classroom. Whatever my score was, I was finished.

Traditionally, when I finish a test, I think back regretfully on that little bit of extra studying that I could have benefited from.

But this time I really didn’t care. Regardless of my score, I still maintain that it in no way demonstrates my academic standing or what I can contribute to a college.

When I got home, I gratefully passed the review book, still sitting on my desk without a wrinkle in its binding, on to my sister.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email