Glorification of test scores in education distorts perception of accomplishment

When one is asked how they did in school, whether it is in elementary school or the last year of college, the question has an implied follow up: what grades did you get? 

For students, it becomes apparent at a young age that grades are the most important factor in determining success. It is clear, however, that a grade in a class can be completely altered due to one great or one poor test score. 

At Geneseo, it is not uncommon for a class’s grade composition to be completely made up of two or three tests, especially in the math and science courses. For some individuals, having courses that are specifically dependent on test scores is beneficial because they are good test takers. On the other hand, for certain students, no matter how hard they try in a class, a single test can completely destroy their chances of achieving a good grade. This can reflect poorly on their GPA and influence their future career options. 

The problem of relying on test-dependent learning as a measurement of success is not just specific to undergraduate colleges or even to Geneseo. 

The LSAT holds a 70 percent weight on where one can get into law school, whereas a four-year GPA carries a weight of more than half that, according to LawSchooli. Medical school admissions are similar: the MCAT is seen as an important “predictor of how well you will do in medical school,” as reported by U.S News & World Report. 

One test has the power to determine what institution an individual may end up at, which is unfair. It is not an accurate representation of the student as a whole. 

The importance of test scores has been driven into children since elementary school. Even as young as fourth grade, standardized tests are administered to students, occasionally determining whether they can take an accelerated route or are forced to stay behind because of one bad score. 

Furthermore, preparing for tests such as the infamous SAT and ACT often consume the lives of high school juniors and seniors, serving as a deciding factor in what colleges students will be able to attend. Other tests, like the AP exams, determine whether a student receives college credit for a class, without regard for any other factors.

While test scores do have merit, they should be given as an additive to a student’s potential rather than determine their entire academic worth. The main point of college and higher avenues of learning are to teach people new skills and techniques to thrive in specified fields. 

With the focus on tests rather than a student’s improvement in the class, participation and willingness to work hard, the student is lost, becoming replaced with a test number. 

Class participation is essential to learning, especially as an undergraduate student, because it highlights an individual’s ability to comprehend information in a variety of settings and with a variety of other students. A student’s improvement in a class should matter because it demonstrates the student’s ability to learn and their eagerness to become more educated, regardless of what knowledge with which they entered the school. 

Test scores should not be the only factor in one’s grade because it is not an honest representation of a student or the knowledge they have acquired, but rather their ability to recount information in a classroom setting. 

As test scores continue to gain importance, the divide between the classroom and real life widens, causing students to be unprepared and to have an altered perception of success.