Is it the beginning of the end for standardized tests?

More and more universities (ex: Yale, Columbia) in the US are dropping standardized tests as a requirement in students’ applications, making them optional. The reason is those top US universities until today had very low acceptance rates while students complained about the costs of required standardized tests like ACT or SAT. The results were that although few students (fewer than 10% of applicants) were admitted into the universities of their choice, many others just spent money on being refused in the end. Without entering higher education, learners are thus already spitting money.

Nevertheless, there’s a deeper problem to that. One test, or even a few tests, should absolutely not rule them all. As James G. Nondorf, UChicago’s dean of admissions and financial aid told the Washington Post, “Testing is not the be-all and end-all”. Indeed, when we think of these types of tests, one word comes out: scary. One test should not be able to determine the whole future of a learner.

The problems of standardized tests

Exam phobia is a real thing everywhere in the world. The thing is that scaring students is not the best way to help them prove they deserve to be admitted in the university of their choice, universities may miss the best students because of a simple test and that is unfortunate.

Making standardized tests optional and prioritizing more diversified tests, continuous assessments and skill tracking show that, according to universities, assessments are a key element in adaptive learning, something we just did not think of up until today (well at TestWe we did of course). More than performance, they focus on integrating assessments in the learning process.

e-Exams are an opportunity to better assess students

While standardized tests are made optional, asking ourselves how we could make exams less scary and more able to spot “golden brains” from every background is the right thing to do.

But pushing this idea further is also crucial. It’s time to make exams more than just performance indicators. It’s time to give exams the tools we need to better follow students, the way they learn and how we can better help them reach their goals. Better assessments benefit everyone and encourage active learning. And for this, e-Exams are the answer. By giving professors the way to facilitate their insights, by optimizing their time to improve their learning content (exam creation/ exam grading), e-Exams help them get what matters in assessments: how a student is doing and what could professors improve. Concerning standardized admission tests, e-Exams are also very useful and for certain reasons:

  • Because they drastically reduce logistics, creation & grading time, e-Exams reduce the costs of assessment, reducing in the end students’ spendings
  • Grading automation or easy grading tools accelerate admission processes
  • The secure environment provided by e-Exam solutions offer more flexibility to applicants that can stay at home while taking the assessments

Learn more about e-Exams here.

So: the end of standardized tests?

Making standardized tests optional for more flexible, accurate and adapted tests that show more a student’s skills is making more top education opened to students from many backgrounds and giving them equal chance to develop their thirst for knowledge and skills.

But wait! It doesn’t mean we should stop standardized tests, it’s more about rethinking them. Because, anyway, tests like ACT or SAT are “too big to fail”. Nevertheless, there is definitely a need to lower their importance, lowering thus extreme stress rates from applicants.

Assessments are like a construction site. We understood the problems it represented and, right now, many interesting opportunities, like e-Exams, are popping up. We are slowly integrating tests into the learning process, making them less and less standardized, more and more adapted.

So is it the end of standardized tests? It’s not the end, it’s not even the beginning of the end. But perhaps the end of the beginning.