2017-09-08 / Education

Testing Stresses

By Hanah Watts, local high school student

Hanah Watts Hanah Watts For students, the month of May is crammed full of testing. One week, EOCs. The next, could be AP testing for some. Those are subsequently closely followed by final exams for each individual class. Or, they may all be scheduled within the same two week time period.

While it is imperative to note that tests and quizzes are an essential part of the education system, it is often the standardized tests that stress students out the most. One study found that the average high schooler took 9.1 standardized tests a year, not including additional tests given by teachers. That is a substantial number when you consider there are approximately nine months in a school year.

As students, we are conditioned from about the third grade that our whole lives depend on the results from these standardized tests. Weeks of our lives are spent studying anything and everything that may have a chance of being on them. Countless hours of class time is spent working through practice tests, all for the few hours we spend actually taking the tests.

In English I, I had to write a research essay on any topic I wanted. I chose to do my essay on how the young adult book, The Testing, criticized modern school systems and standardized testing. While researching the topic of standardized testing, I learned quite a few interesting facts.

First, while tests and quizzes are a normal part of school, high stakes tests are often detrimental to the mental health of students.

Recently, numerous studies have cited high stakes standardized tests as one of the major factors in the rise of anxiety in children and teens. I personally know several of my fellow classmates who could probably fall under this category.

It is perfectly normal to be slightly stressed before tests; however, when a student’s anxiety level is to the point they feel physically sick, there is a real problem.

Furthermore, other studies show that stressed individuals, especially students, have less memory retention while stressed. This is an issue because, when taking a test, memory is a key role in the difference between a passing and a failing grade.

Finally, “Test Burnout” is absolutely a real issue. After the third test of the week, the thought of taking another one makes you want to gouge your eyes out; except you need your eyes to read the test questions.

It does not matter if you have spent months studying for that particular test, you will probably be staying up fairly late the night before to cram—no matter how many times the school reminds you that sleep is a necessity.

So, until we solve the problem of standardized testing and stress, we will have an army of tired, anxious, albeit somewhat educated, zombies.

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