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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, May 17, 2024

Test prep courses unfair

The sole purpose of standardized admissions tests for graduate school is to rank potential students according to the grading criteria of the exam, but these tests are arguably far from standardized.  




The extensive resources and test preparation courses available to those who can afford them is creating a situation in which test scores can no longer objectively rank students. 




Test preparation courses, like those offered by Kaplan, are disrupting the level playing field needed to truly determine how qualified a student is for graduate level education. How can a test be called standardized if a person who has the ability to spend over $2,000 can get a personal tutor? 




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Unfortunately, this testing system very obviously favors people who can afford expensive preparation methods. In a sense, these courses undermine the entire system.  




In order to be truly fair to all students, steps must be taken in order to make the tests more standardized. The best solution is just to disallow test preparation courses entirely, since they defeat the purpose of these examinations. Also, the selling and distribution of past exam questions should be disallowed. This would most likely upset many people who depend on the provided information to achieve high scores, but nobody could complain about the fairness of the exam. 




The agencies that administer these exams should just provide a brief description of the test and the type of questions that will be asked of the examinees. If this were the case, everybody would start from the same point and the student pool would be more objectively ranked. 




If test preparation courses were abandoned, there would be a problem comparing scores of people who took the exam in the past with those who took it without any previous knowledge, but this is easily solved. A student's score can be compared with the national average of test scores taken that year. This system would be much more objective. 




Many people might argue that the current test preparation methods should be allowed, especially since you would never step into a courtroom or operating room without the proper preparation, but this does not apply here. The pre-graduate testing experience should test your inherent abilities, since the skills you need to be successful upon graduation will be taught to you over the course of whichever program you choose to attend. 




The current test-taking environment is doing a poor job of objectively determining which students will achieve success at the graduate level. Either a new system of ranking students needs to be developed, or the current system needs to be modified in a way that no sort of pre-test preparation will give anybody an edge. 








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