Is Standardized Testing Bad for Society?

Sze Mai Ng, Age 12, Diocesan Girls’ School

KYP Intermediate Global Thinking Course


I disagree with the form of a standardized test.  It is a test that is mainly composed of multiple choice questions, with an optional essay which only takes up a small percentage of the total mark.  There is only one right answer for each question.  Everyone in each grade gets the same test, and this test is given to students in many different schools.

Firstly, on a standardized test, it is hard for students to express their creativity, because there are no open-ended questions, and each question has only one model answer.  However, the ability to express creativity is vital in many jobs when students grow up.  If students are not trained to be creative from when they are young, and only train for these standardized tests, it will be hard for them to survive in companies when they grow up.

The above is one of the biggest problems about standardized test, but there are more.  How well students of a particular class, or school, do in a standardized test, may affect the teachers’ income.  If students do too badly, teachers may even be kicked out of school!  This is what causes teachers to “teach to the test” – they only teach students how to do multiple choice tests, which, in turn, buries their creativity and their other analytical skills.  This is not good for the students themselves in the long term, and can even harm them.

Next is the problem of guessing.  The standardized test consists of multiple choice questions, which enables students to guess the right answer, and have at least 25% of getting the correct answer.  Thus, students who have developed effective strategies for guessing answers, mostly those who are trained by teachers for multiple choice tests, may get a fairly high score without really having the knowledge or intelligence to deserve such a high score.  On the other hand, students who love to express creativity but cannot master the ‘art’ of guessing may get a low score on such standardized tests, as this test doesn’t give students the chance of expressing their creativity.

This brings up another problem – the standardized test is a high stake test.  If a student does well in the test, he or she may successfully enter a top college, while he or she may not actually meet the standards of the university, as high scores might be the result of guessing.  However, students who have great creativity but are not familiar with the format of standardized tests may not even have the chance of stepping through the doors of university.  Ultimately, this isn’t fair for the students, and cannot benefit the society either, because young people who don’t really have the talents may get into reputable companies because of their high test scores.  This may cause big problems for companies.

Although I think standardized testing is bad for the society, there are still indisputable benefits of standardized tests.  One of the most significant ones is that standardized tests are easy to grade, and examiners can get the results of students efficiently.  Also, with standardized answers, the disputes that occur when students think marks are not given in a fair way can be lessened.  However, these benefits can’t compensate for the problems standardized tests cause, as they can drastically affect students in the long term, and can cause many other chain-reactions, such as hindering the graduates’ ability to do jobs well.

In conclusion, I think that standardized testing is bad for the society. There should be more open-ended or long-answer questions in high-stake tests, instead of only multiple choice questions.


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