Letting go of standardized test scores

Claire Fisher

Standardized tests seem to determine everything. They tell you how smart you are at various subjects and give you a concrete measure of which colleges you’re good enough to get into.

Whether you took the SAT or the ACT, you probably remember that fateful day you received the score. A measure of what you were capable of. By now in your college career, you’ve probably realized all of that was completely untrue.

The ACT and the SAT don’t measure every type of “smart” there is, and your score doesn’t represent your potential, and it certainly shouldn’t your determine your self-worth; we should all let it go.

Despite it being five years since I took the ACT, I still find myself embarrassed by my score. There was nothing wrong with the score I received and it was good enough to get me into Grand Valley State University, which was my first-choice school. But ultimately, I seem to have not let it go and I find my peers still feel just as haunted by their scores as I do.

Standardized tests are standardized. They measure your ability to perform in math, science, English, reading and writing based on the questions they ask you. They don’t measure your people skills. They don’t measure your ability to learn information and apply it. They don’t measure your common sense. They don’t measure your ability to problem solve. They don’t measure creativity.

It’s simply a measure of how well you can answer their questions, in the way they want you to, in the time allotted. Real life is not test taking, it’s working with people, it’s solving problems and it’s working hard.

Your ACT score does not measure your potential. That score is a measure of how well you could perform on that test, on one given day in your junior year of high school. You are no longer the same person you were in high school. Your time in college has allowed you to grow up and prove to the world what you can do. And still from this point on, you will learn more and accomplish more in your life and leave that measured potential of the standardized test score in the dust.

Even in my senior year of college, I still hear people on campus comparing their ACT and SAT scores, ashamed or proud of what they earned. Let it go. Whether that score is something you’re terrified to reveal or something your parents still tell their friends about, let it go. It is not an accurate description of the person you are today. Don’t let the score that some standardized test company branded you with all those years ago define how you view yourself today.

Instead, we should be talking about things we’ve accomplished lately, the events we have going on in our lives and all the things we are excited to do in the future. You’ve made it to college, you’ve grown up since then. It’s time to let your ACT and SAT scores become a distant memory.