THE BLOG
10/21/2014 09:21 am ET Updated Dec 21, 2014

The Problem With Testing Inequality

Dear College Board,

This isn't a normal rant. This isn't a letter complaining about the structure and questions on the SAT.

No.

This is a letter demanding a change to the environment and culture surrounding your test. Standardized testing has shifted from a mere requirement to a game. Whoever finds the best tutor or class wins the game. These students attend the college of their dreams.

For many students, a 2400 is unattainable without much preparation and intense practice. Last week, I took the SAT on Sunday, for hopefully the last time. Almost a year ago, I began preparing and studying. Thankfully, with much help, I have raised my score by many points, and hope that next week I can reach my goal score. I am extremely fortunate to be able to afford standardized testing assistance. Yet, what about someone who cannot afford tutoring or a class? This student is at an extreme disadvantage. Why? Because how can these students compete against students who have studied for years? Some students are trained in the art of test-taking. Others struggle and have anxiety.

Many colleges have recognized this problem of "testing inequality." Wesleyan University states "students should have the power to decide how best to present themselves to the admission committee and whether -- or not -- their standardized test results accurately reflect their academic ability and potential." The admissions website continues to reiterate the significance of one's high school transcript and performance in the classroom, because this performance cannot be gamed. It is up to the student to work as hard as they can in school, and they will, and should be rewarded.

Similarly, national universities such as New York University, American University, Arizona State University and Brandeis University provide test flexible or complete test optional policies. At NYU and Brandeis, students can choose which kinds of tests to submit, be it AP or SAT subject tests. These universities are giving students the liberty to best showcase their academic talents. Whether the applicants believe it is through the SAT, or through AP or SAT II's. American University no longer requires the SAT, while Arizona State applicants must meet one of many different requirements, some include testing, others do not. For both of these schools, students can be admitted without submitting a standardized test. These colleges recognize the utmost significance of day to day classroom experience as well as academic interest from the student.

Children who grow up in wealthier areas studied and studied for many months in preparation for a four-hour test. For other, less-fortunate children, they worked as hard as they could, but may see lower results. These lower results could, subsequently, lead to denials from different colleges. The environment needs to be changed. Ideally, competition should be completely eliminated. However, if it must kept, it should only be in the classroom, if anywhere. Students work and study for countless hours in and outside of school. It is up to the student to put the work in during school. If colleges wish to keep the test, eliminate unfair advantages. End intense test preparation. Students should come in with an equal playing field. Please, let's end "testing inequality."

Respectfully,
Avi