Standardized testing a rigged game

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Test scores that make or break entrance to graduate programs give an unfair leg up to privileged students.

Most Canadian post-grad professional programs require a score from a standardized test, be it the LSAT, MCAT, GMAT or GRE.

It makes sense why graduate schools want to establish a base line proficiency and intelligence for admissions. That way, reputable schools wont waste time on candidates who dont have what it takes.

But the current standardized testing system may pose an undue burden on low-income students, giving privileged applicants an unfair advantage. 

Standardized tests have increasingly become a test that one can study for. Which means theyre tests you can pay to do well on. You can buy study materials, pay a tutor or take an expensive prep course.

Students who repeatedly practice for a test have a leg up, compared to someone whose second job denies them the luxury of writing multiple practice tests a day.

Moreover, low-income students often cant take the test repeatedly to improve their score, as is often done by students with greater financial resources.

When it comes down to it, time and money are barriers to professional education that have nothing to do with aptitude. To end a cycle of privilege and open up professional degrees to underprivileged members of our society, these barriers need to be reduced.  

We cant expect graduate schools to stop testing for baseline knowledge. But they should at least put less weight on a test thats fundamentally skewed to favour privileged applicants especially considering the tests inaccuracies.

These tests are administered by third-party companies that dont necessarily have a vested interest in how well high-scoring individuals do in graduate school.

To being with, most standardized tests dont test innate intelligence, which is nearly impossible to measure in this format.

In most cases these tests are outdated, and often fail to adequately reflect whether a candidate will do well in graduate school.

While the workload involved in studying for a test may prepare an applicant for the crushing workload of graduate school, a high score doesnt necessarily indicate whether someone would be a good lawyer or doctor.

There are many applicants who are willing to sacrifice more, work harder, and yet their scores dont reflect this commitment in comparison to those who are more privileged and are afforded advantages.

A solution to closing this gap is to give more emphasis to other elements of applications, from reference letters to a personal essay.

Getting a real picture of an applicants worth should be based on a more nuanced context than a number especially one that can be bought.

Journal Editorial Board 

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