A bubble sheet. A No. 2 pencil. A pink eraser.

If those three objects don't spark a sense of terror deep inside of you, you must never have taken a standardized test before. Over the past few years, it has become abundantly clear that the emphasis placed on tests throughout the American education system detracts from student's ability to become independent thinkers.

Furthermore, tests are not a fair or accurate assessment of a student's comprehension of the class material. Instead, they detract from a student's overall education by forcing them to think in a certain way as well as consuming extreme amounts of time to administer.

Standardized testing goes directly against the philosophy of creating independent thinkers and, instead, robs students of the skill to view the world with their own perspective and form their own conclusions. In these examinations, students are forced to pick from an answer that is already created for them. This teaches students that there is only "one" correct answer to every problem.

In reality, there are a multitude of ways to approach and solve problems. This is especially true of today's increasingly complex society. Instead of being bound by pre-made answer options, students should be encouraged to think about problems and propose unique and innovative solutions.

As a consequence of our dependency on standardized testing, the education system successfully molds students into rule-memorizing automatons instead of the independent thinkers that they should be in order to experience success in the future.

In addition to detracting from students developing as creative intellectuals, statistics have also shown that standardized testing expends an enormous amount of time. A recent study in the Washington Post reports that an average American big-city public school student takes over 100 mandatory tests throughout their academic career. As such, extreme amounts of time are being wasted as students are forced to sit through state or federal-mandated testing.

In addition, although teachers can't write standardized tests, they often write tests that mimic standardized tests anyway, in order to prepare their students for the "official" test. Due to this, students spend huge amounts of their time in school just being tested on material instead of actually having time to learn it. Teachers and students have to sacrifice valuable time that could be spent on education on standardized tests.

Although some proponents of standardized testing claim that these exams set a baseline to compare students to each other, the reality is that they fail to do so and ultimately harm students throughout their school years. Students with more money to invest in test preparation will inevitably perform better than students of a different socioeconomic status.

Furthermore, many teachers tailor their classroom plans to prepare students for certain tests — students who have teachers who deviate from these lesson plans are at a disadvantage to their peers. The tests themselves also consume extreme amounts of time to prepare for, administer, and score. This valuable time is being invested in inherently unfair tests instead of in educating the students.

Standardized testing is ineffective, wastes valuable time in schools, and can ultimately harm students as they progress through their academic careers. America's dependency on these exams has caused many students to become standardized thinkers as they spend many of their school days filling in bubble sheets.

Instead of forcing students to pass standardized tests, the education system should encourage them to become creative learners and innovators in the future.

Neehar Banerjee is a senior at Mayo High School. To respond to an opinion column, send an email to life@postbulletin.com.

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