This summer, Kingsway students continued to question the importance of standardized testing despite high performances.
“I do not believe that they’re a fair assessment, because I think exams like the SAT and ACT are not assessing your knowledge, but rather it is a test on how well you can take that test,” said Ivor Mills, a rising senior.
Mills earned a 1540 on his most recent SAT attempt, placing him in the top one percent of American test takers. While he is proud of his accomplishments and the work that he put in, Mills admits, “If you know, the strategies behind the test and how they’re trying to trick you, you can get a good score, so it is not a fair assessment of academic ability”.
In order to prepare for college admissions testing, Mills was tutored at Mathnasium, took and retook online practice exams, and utilized a free website called Khan Academy. He recognizes that these opportunities are indicators of the inherent biases standardized exams carry toward certain groups of students.
For example, students who do not have access to a computer or stable internet would not be able to benefit from the resources available online.
Although students are encouraged to take the SAT or ACT, many question whether these tests are becoming obsolete. According to fairtest.org, an organization dedicated to fair and open testing, 80 percent of all four-year universities will remain test-optional for the 2023 admissions cycle.
“There’s less of a pressure to take it in the sense that if test scores do not reflect your ability or if you couldn’t get to a test center, you’re not being held accountable,” explained Mills.
Some of Kingsway’s underclassmen have already adapted to an academic culture that does not prioritize admissions testing.
“I think those tests will be helpful for me to see what kind of students are admitted to schools I am interested in,” said Emma Pieters, a rising sophomore. “At the same time, I don’t think it’s as important anymore,” she continued.
In addition to universities becoming test-optional, the SAT and ACT will see some changes as well. College Board, the organization that writes and administers these exams, has opted to move the tests online beginning in 2024.
Starting next year, students will no longer have to sharpen their No. 2 pencils but instead will take a shortened version of these tests online. The tests will be cut down from three hours to two hours beginning next fall.
Although there are many foreseeable benefits to an online test, such as paper conservation and grading efficiency, many students still prefer the paper option.
Students like Mills and Pieters argue that online testing is strenuous on the eyes and does not allow students to fully dissect questions by annotating.
“I think there’s going to be many complaints from students at the beginning but we will be able to ease into it pretty quickly,” said Pieters.
In addition to college admissions testing, Kingsway students also take College Board assessments for their Advanced Placement (AP) classes. AP classes are standardized curriculums taken by high schoolers across the country at college-level rigor. Historically, students are able to receive college credit depending on their exam scores, but now, Kingsway offers an alternative route for students who are not so fond of standardized testing.
Students who earn a certain benchmark grade in an AP class can opt into a program called dual-credit, rather than, or in addition to, taking the exam. Dual credit allows families to pay colleges like Camden County or Rowan University $150 to receive transferable college credit for their efforts in the class.
While dual credit is an increasingly popular program, many students still prefer to take the traditional exam.
“The teachers did a great job preparing us,” said Pieters, who took two exams this year. “They gave us about two weeks before the exams just to ask questions and relearn some things that we might have missed during the school year”.
Whether students decide to make standardized exams a priority or prefer to focus on other academic pursuits, they continue to be supported by their Kingsway faculty and classmates throughout the process.
By Audrey Pachuta