2005 Testing and Assessment Archive
Where should you draw the line between normal trepidation and genuine test anxiety? Students with true test anxiety tend to be consumed with worries, such as fear of failure, worthlessness, and dread. In turn, they experience physiological symptoms, such as sweating, dizziness, and racing heartbeats. Some have more traumatic symptoms. Some teachers ridicule the notion of test anxiety, but other teachers believe it's worth a little extra time and effort to help stressed-out kids calm down before exams.
The Limits of Testing
There are two reasons why even the most reliable test score differences tell an incomplete and often inaccurate story about black-white differences in school outcomes. First, standardized tests do not measure nonacademic traits that we want young people to gain from education. Second, standardized tests themselves can give inaccurate or misleading information about performance in academic areas. Standardized tests are fine for some purposes, but they can't assess creativity, insight, or many other important traits.
Acing the Exam
Intent on getting into colleges and universities, students nationwide are flocking to online courses and test-prep centers marketed by Princeton Review, Sylvan, Peterson's, Kaplan, and other companies. Course content varies, but most focus on test-taking strategies and skills related to writing and grammar, critical reading, and advanced algebra. Test prep is a booming industry, but is it the right way to prepare kids for college admissions exams? Maybe, maybe not.