Critical Analysis of Standardized Testing: Reflective Essay

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Throughout the years, standardized testing has been regarded as the way to measure how much a student has learned over a period of time. It is seen as such because it provides an objective and reliable measure of student achievement, which plays a huge role on major decisions about the student’s future, such as grade promotion, high school graduation and higher education opportunities. Many people argue whether standardized testing is really effective, or is it just affecting the prospect of our future society.

On one hand, standardized testing is useful because it is an impartial and objective way to measure a student’s academic progress. It is the same test for everyone, therefore being more reliable since it is neutral and unbiased. This is not the case when it comes to the testing done by individual schools, since in every school the testing would be done differently, consequently being unfair to base the student’s future on results that emerge on inaccurate testing. Furthermore, since it is the same for everyone, it is also inclusive and non-discriminatory since it is applied equivalently to all students.

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Additionally, standardized testing has proven to have a positive effect on student achievement. According to The Effect of Testing on Achievement, 1910-2010, a peer-reviewed analysis composed of several studies on student testing for over 100 years, 93% of studies found “the effect of testing on achievement to be moderately to strongly positive.” This is most likely because students feel motivated to do well on tests, so they strive to get a good grade and therefore obtain high academic achievement.

On the other hand, standardized testing scores can impact the student’s confidence. The test scores are usually interpreted as a way to judge a student’s ability. According to The Sandbox News, “there are many factors that can impact a student’s test score negatively, including stress, lack of language skills, and lack of special needs accommodations.” As a former test-taker myself, I can vouch for that by saying that tests usually put me under a lot of stress. I would pull all-nighters all the time studying for them, and while taking them I would have a hard time remembering the material due to the lack of sleep I put myself through because I was afraid to fail. Moreover, I found myself upset whenever I did not do so good. For example, I took the paper-based TOEFL and I remember getting the minimum score needed to apply to a university in the United States. It felt like it was all just pure luck, and all my English language abilities were not as good as I thought they were. It took me a while to be confident about my English again, not letting a three-digit number define who I am.

Additionally, according to Anne Trafton from MIT News, “in a study of nearly 1,400 eighth-graders in the Boston public school system, the researchers found that some schools have successfully raised their students’ scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). However, those schools had almost no effect on students’ performance on tests of fluid intelligence skills, such as working memory capacity, speed of information processing, and ability to solve abstract problems.” Students are being trained to have automatic responses, but when it comes to seeing beyond and critically solving a problem, they don’t succeed. Standardized testing just feeds this problem to the education system, making kids less prepared for the intelligence they will need in the other aspects of their life.

Personally, I believe that standardized testing is really limitative when it comes to showing what someone is and what they can do. I understand where people come from when they say that it is the quickest way to measure what a student knows, but at the same time I feel like it is just a system made by adults that have forgotten what being a student is like. Letting a score define what you know is like letting one simple action dictate the type of person you are. It feels as if we are letting students be quickly judged by a number rather than give them an opportunity to hear them out.

As standard as the test is, people are usually not. Everyone is different and all the circumstances around the testing process are different as well. Former first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama once said “If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.” She attended Princeton, even though she did not do well on her standardized test. Nevertheless, she achieved great things such as being the first lady, a successful writer, a Harvard graduate, and overall one of the most successful women of the United States. And if she did not do well on her test, but still managed to be who she is today, then what is the point of standardized testing?

Works Cited

  1. Ershova, Sofia. “Standardized Tests Are Inaccurate.” Standardized Tests Are Inaccurate |, 11 Feb. 2017,
  2. Phelps, Richard P. “The Effect of Testing on Achievement: Meta-Analyses and Research Summary, 1910–2010 Source List, Effect Sizes, and References for Quantitative Studies.” The Achievement Effects of Standardized Testing: 2011,
  3. Trafton, Anne. “Even When Test Scores Go up, Some Cognitive Abilities Don't.” MIT News, 11 Dec. 2013,
  4. V, Jonathan, and Weekly Standard. “Michelle's America.” The Weekly Standard, 19 Feb. 2008,
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