Students Explain: Why student intelligence goes beyond a test score


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A student’s answer sheet is pictured on their desk after their standardized test is complete.

“If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will go its whole life believing it is stupid.” This quote is often attributed to Albert Einstein, a genius who understood that there are many valuable qualities contained in a person. Much like the “fish” in the quote, if a student is told all their lives that their intelligence is only defined by standardized test scores, then those scores will become the only measure of success for that student. 

“Standardized testing does not accurately show the intelligence of our students at Trinity. Everyone has different talents, and a test score does not show talent nor worth,” Senior Jade Miller explains. 

Miller feels as though teachers at Trinity do a great job of preparing students for standardized tests;  however, she also feels that standardized testing becomes the only focus of some classes. 

Miller has never actually taken the SAT. She is unsure what college she wants to attend at this point, but eight schools have already accepted her despite the fact that she never submitted SAT scores. Every school has also offered her academic aid, proving that not all schools depend on standardized tests to show student worth. The COVID-19 pandemic has made colleges and universities realize that it is possible to carry out admissions without students taking the SAT.

A student’s potential should not be based on their scores for a single exam. A single exam cannot account for the many different personalities and learning styles that the students taking it may have.

Senior Rachel Faust offers her own opinion on the tests; “What makes the difference between a student who is a lower or more average scorer versus a student who is a consistently high scorer isn’t the intelligence of the student. The difference is the high scorers, while they don’t know exactly what the right answers are, they know how to get somewhere around the right answer using their previous knowledge and logic/reasoning.” 

Faust argues that standardized tests are horrible at measuring a student’s capacity to master concepts and process information but that they are good at gauging a student’s ability to understand how concepts relate to one another. When a student takes a test, it is almost impossible for them to understand every question and concept — no matter how intelligent they might be. 

Students taking the standardized tests should stop using those tests to define themselves academically. Everyone has different talents and abilities that sometimes cannot be measured by a standardized test. That is okay! It doesn’t mean that lower or average scoring students are necessarily less intelligent than high scoring students — as Faust points out, it only means that students have different strengths and weaknesses. 

Miller summarized, “A test score does not make or break your life. Show people your worth through actions, not a score.”

Check out part 2 of this series: Grads Explain: How standardized tests affect college applications