Recently, I’ve had contact with some Americans who are involved in developing SAT and ACT questions for students who are seeking admission to universities. In Canada, many of us are more familiar with SAT, but it seems that ACT is gaining in popularity as a tool for universities to screen applicants for admission.
I have been thinking about these standardized tests and the preparation that students have to do in order to get a good score. One thing that became obvious to me is that the questions are written with a “nuance” that students have to learn, especially Canadian students who are applying for American universities. The tests don’t so much test knowledge as ability to get inside the head of the test-writer to figure out the correct answer.
Do we want our exceptionally bright children to spend their time learning to pass tests? Do we want them to risk frustration and anxiety by having to spend time learning test tricks? For that matter, is it important for them to gain admission to the “best” schools?
I can’t help thinking that the schools that are ranked the best by some objective criteria may not be the best for your child. So before we start helping them to prep for tests, perhaps we should consider the children, and see whether they will be well served by putting them through this meat-grinder process.