A test from another universe

Konopelko voices opinion on standardized testing


Art by: Gabe Anderson

Story by Nicole Konopelko, Managing Editor

Prior to taking the SAT, I was certain my 4.5 GPA and rigorous coursework would guarantee a competitive score.  

I could not have been more wrong.

The SAT was a mental battle for which my teachers had never prepared me, with abnormal questions and an impossible time limit.

My three sleepless months in a $600 online SAT prep class prove that standardized testing is not an accurate measure of my, or my peers’, intellect.

For many reasons, the College Board-administered SAT and the ACT, Inc.-administered ACT — the nation’s two leading standardized tests — should not be a factor in college admissions.

For one, the tests’ questions aren’t representative of school.

A study by Achieve — a nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization —  found that fewer than half of the English and math questions on the ACT “were judged to be aligned to the high school expectations.”

Literature passages are written by Old-English authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, whose works I’ve never read. Science passages contain confusing technical processes such as “bleaching.”

The SAT was a mental battle for which my teachers had never prepared me, with abnormal questions and an impossible time limit.

— Nicole Konopelko

What’s worse is we have to answer these difficult questions under a three-hour time limit, which equates to six minutes per reading passage and one minute per math problem. Based on numbers from Health Guidance, at a rate of 300 words per minute, a test taker would spend 11 minutes on an average-sized 3,250-word SAT passage.

That’s way more than the SAT’s six-minute rate.

Although I could afford an SAT prep class to help combat this limit, many students, understandably, could not.

According to coverage by the Washington Post, ACT scores from only 9 percent of students in the class of 2017 who came from low-income families, whose parents did not have a college degree and who identify as a minority show they are strongly ready for college.

Test prep is nearly impossible for these disadvantaged students to afford. The ACT’s registration fee alone is $60, and that’s not even counting prep books, classes or tutors.

Colleges are catching up and even abandoning the SAT and ACT. According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, more than 1,000 accredited colleges and universities do not require standardized test scores for admissions into bachelor degree programs.

It’s time for all U.S. colleges to follow suit.  

A test that has different formats, questions and mantras from what we’ve learned in high school should not be used as an indicator of our success.

We study notes and devote hours to extracurricular activities. Not everyone can do that, and those are the traits that colleges should examine not a subjective test score.

A 4.5 GPA and a rigorous course load is enough of an indicator of success.

Despite my complaints, the colleges I’m applying to require a standardized test score. And that probably won’t change any time soon.

But I will fight for the next generation of high school students to never experience the same struggles I am experiencing now.

Hopefully, colleges will too.