Career aptitude tests not worth the time

Once every year, students from ninth to 11th grade are expected to take a grade level standardized test. Freshmen and sophomores receive a list of possible career options from their test results, while juniors take a practice SAT test that determines their estimated SAT score and whether or not they qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Although these tests have some substantial reasons for why they should be administered, they are not an absolute necessity.

By Zoe Weisner:

Graphics by George Hwang:

Once every year, students from ninth to 11th grade are expected to take a grade level standardized test. Freshmen and sophomores receive a list of possible career options from their test results, while juniors take a practice SAT test that determines their estimated SAT score and whether or not they qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Although these tests have some substantial reasons for why they should be administered, they are not an absolute necessity.

According to ACT Inc., the administrators of the EXPLORE and PLAN tests, freshmen and sophomores receive an analyzed overview of their academic progress and professions they may be interested in based on their results.

[pullquote]The EXPLORE, PLAN and Preliminary SAT (PSAT) tests essentially give the same reports as the STAR test, and it is pointless to take these tests because career suggestions are not as important as a full day of learning at school is.[/pullquote]

However, between August and October, most students don’t make significant academic progress simply because they’ve only been in school for roughly three months. Due to this, Standardized Testing and Re- porting (STAR) test results accurately measure student progress in school while the EXPLORE and PLAN tests are, in effect, only evaluating three months of student learning.

From second to 11th grade, students take the STAR exam, which assesses the strengths and weaknesses of every student. The EXPLORE, PLAN and Preliminary SAT (PSAT) tests essentially give the same reports as the STAR test, and it is pointless to take these tests because career suggestions are not as important as a full day of learning at school is.

On the other hand, the PSAT is necessary as a practice SAT test. The PSAT simulates what it would be like to take the actual SAT test for juniors, and is a beneficial test for those who cannot afford expensive SAT preparation courses. The PSAT even helps those in need of financial aid because they are partnered with the National Merit Scholarship Program and offer every junior taking the PSAT a chance to win a scholarship.

However, juniors spend six valuable hours of instruction on an exam. An entire day of instruction is squandered simply for the purpose of the PSAT, a test that merely takes four hours to complete. Rather than using the last two hours of the day for scholastic purposes, the school district has chosen to allow juniors to have a truncated day. Students that do wish to take the PSAT should instead do so on the Saturday on which it is offered, much like the SAT that it is intended to emulate.

Standardized testing is never enjoyable for anybody. According to a study found in the Educational Researcher, teachers experience negative emotions during standardized testing and some students exhibit stress reactions during test taking. Time and money are being spent to prepare these tests for students, and in the long run they most likely won’t be the deciding factor in people’s futures. Stan- dardized testing should be a tool for students to look at what they need to improve, not give career suggestions and contribute more anxiety to a student’s life.

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