Sleep, eat, study. This is the daily cycle of the typical high school student. He/she must figure out how to learn in widely varying classroom settings, then absorb supposedly “crucial” skills. Unbeknownst to many, the stress of day-to-day activities lead to the buildup of cortisol, which, despite its unassuming name, is linked to a variety of disorders, from severe anxiety to persistent fatigue. Around 1 in 10 American teens suffer from stress-related disorders. The overwhelming majority of this stress is a byproduct of a common and feared tool: standardized tests. Such exams claim to predict college performance in an objective fashion and in large bolded letters. But, they are not as fair as they seem. In reality, the SAT, and its counterpart, the ACT, are poor indicators of college performance.
High school students often struggle with certain types of assessments in a myriad of classroom environments. As a matter of fact, learning styles differ from person to person. There are visual, kinesthetic, and auditory learners. Auditory learners prefer listening to lectures, explanations, and stories. Graphs, pictures, and written words are optimal mediums of learning for those with a visual learning style. Kinesthetics, conversely, are most aware of their body movements, therefore excelling in skits, role playing, and hands-on activities. To illustrate, Lee Grayson, an editor of the online newspaper Demand Media, revealed that “…standardized exams, including the SAT [and ACT], ask questions that…incorporate questions involving reading and writing…” (“Pros & Cons of the SAT Test”). This is important because it demonstrates the areas of intelligence that the SAT and ACT are best suited to, and thus places students with different learning-styles at a disadvantage, showing that they are not the best tools to assess success in college. Another example involves how information is presented to students in the high school environment, or, in other words, the context of the American secondary school system. North Carolina State University’s Dr. Richard Felder, Hoechst Celanese Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering, posits that:
“…when mismatches exist between learning styles of most students in a class and the teaching style of the professor, the students may become bored and inattentive in class, do poorly on tests, [and] get discouraged about the courses, the curriculum, and themselves” (Felder).
This is significant because partial and unfair tests prevent students from trying harder and therefore doing well on the SAT and ACT. High school instructors in the United States tend to use conventional methods of teaching, sticking to the basics of hour-long lectures, guided group activities, and Socratic seminars, which are most compatible with auditory and visual learning styles. They do not and can not accommodate to each individual student, especially since budget deficits have led to increasingly larger classroom sizes. Ergo,...