UNITED STATES—For many Americans, especially if you’re still in school or you have children, they are likely in the chaos of taking exams or preparing to take tests whether it is for the semester, end of the year, SAT, ACT, LSAT, GRE or so many more, test taking is part of education. However, I have started to question the effectiveness of an actual test. Why?

Does a test really prove anything? I mean some people are better at taking tests than others. If you were to ask me, I can do well at a test as long as it is NOT a timed test. I do not do well with such tests, which includes the SAT, LAST, ACT and GRE. These are all tests that I have taken and didn’t do exceptionally well on the first go around. I tend to rush when I have a timed test because I think if others are finishing their test before me, I have to be doing something wrong and it results in my panicking and it results in me initially bombing the test.

From all the years that I have taken exams I have come to the realization if you do bad on one exam it doesn’t make you a dummy or that you don’t know the material. You can sometimes just panic and that panic brings about bad results that time. I remember taking the ACT and having an average score the first time I took the exam in high school. So of course, I’m taking the exam a second time because you needed to score well on the ACT or SAT to get into college back then, nowadays, not so much. The reason this is so important is that it gives those students who crack under pressure, the opportunity to prove a test is just a test.

It is not a predictor of your future performance that so many people seem to think. Why can I say this? I had plenty of friends who scored higher than me on their ACT and SAT exams. We all managed to go to the same college/university, but after a semester of classes, they were dropping like flies, while I was still going strong despite what my test scores would have ‘predicted.’

So, what does that say? A test doesn’t predict your success in college America! It predicted what my success could possibly be like, but when you place an actual person into a classroom at the collegiate level you don’t know how some will respond. Some will rise to the occasion and take in a bevy of information a lot easier than others, who crash and burn with a little bit of pressure.

Whereas that person who performed top tier during a timed test, once in a massive lecture class is not able to process all that stimuli that the professor is teaching. There should NOT be so much weight, put onto an exam, but that has become the best way we can examine their knowledge of the material that has been given to them. I would rather say an essay is a better fit, but then you have those people who argue some people are not that great at writing papers, which is true.

So the question begs, what are we actually evaluating and what is the best way to evaluate people when it comes to education? I wish I had an answer for that question, but I don’t and I think that is the point of this discussion we need to focus more on.