Beyond the Bubble Sheets: A Closer Look at Today’s Testing

Ailani Maximo-Beltran – PCHS Bulletin 

The end of the school year brings graduation, yearbooks, and testing. The testing season strikes everyone in the school. As students hope to excel, there is pressure from the school, teachers, parents, and even themselves. Is all the pressure that comes from the testing necessary, or is testing even necessary? How does one cope with the pressure? 

The question may also arise: what type of testing is there? Which tests apply to me? Students applying to colleges or for scholarships may take the SAT, ACT, or PERT tests. Students enrolled in college courses take AP or AICE exams to earn their credit. Students also take numerous state and district level tests such as FAST and EOCs to demonstrate content knowledge for graduation requirements. Finally, all students take exams at each semester mark to earn their course credits at the school level. 

Most of these tests occur late April into May, putting pressure on students at the end of the year. This pressure can create anxiety, stress, depression, lack of sleep, which in turn affects students’ overall mental and physical health. An argument can be made that these tests do not provide accurate representation of a person’s ability. Students in the future could also be hurt by this method as some teachers teach to the test and may not gain any skills applicable in future as students are only taught a certain way. Another harmful effect of testing is that schools must manipulate the schedule to fit testing in, but where do the non-testing students go? Inconsistencies in the schedule, placing students in holding rooms or in resiliency training can be viewed as an ineffective use of time and loss of academic instruction. 

However, there are benefits to testing. Testing pinpoints areas where students may need help or improvement. Testing can show learning gains. College testing specifically allows students to earn free college credit and save money down the road. This could give teachers guidance on where to help certain students and may encourage more practice in that area, which could lead to higher scores. Testing is supposed to be an objective form of measure for students, so everyone has a similar test, and it doesn’t give any unfair advantages to anyone. Testing can be interpreting as a form of goal setting; teaching students how to work towards said goal.

It's evident that testing is not going away, so what can individuals do to make it easier on themselves? Before tests, it is important to mentally and physically prepare. Here are some tips to get ready: 

  • Get a good night of sleep
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Don’t attempt to study everything the night before.
  • Read questions carefully
  • Identify key words in questions 

It is necessary to take care of oneself, especially before a test, to help prevent burnout. Even if they may think they are not prepared, it is also important for students to remember they have been working hard the entire school year to learn the material and they can persevere through the exam season and take the summer to relax and recharge.