Timed testing lowers scores


Natalie Larimer, Staff Writer

Most of us know the familiar sense of anxiety during the last few minutes of an ITED or AP test. Even the ACT and SAT are timed. Timing tests make us too nervous to think clearly, hurting our scores.

I’m always in a fit of anxiety during timed tests, even though I’m a fairly fast test taker. I’m usually the first one done with tests and quizzes in class. You would think I wouldn’t have a problem with putting a time limit on things. Yet, I do. Even if I finish an ITED before we hit the halfway marker (something that’s happened on multiple occasions), I’m still in this nervous state that doesn’t wear off for about an hour because I get so worked up about the time. It’s terrible. “When I take timed tests, I feel stressed even if I know exactly what I’m doing,” senior Jill Kolotsane-Wren said. The time limit puts us under unnecessary pressure and it’s hurting our scores in the process.

Standardized tests are just a cause of added stress that we students don’t need. “As if the tests themselves weren’t stressful enough, now you have to worry about the time limit,” senior Jennifer Meyer said.  According to psychologytoday.com, the average high school student today has the same anxiety level as the average psychiatric patient in the 1950’s. Removing the time limit on testing is just one way that students’ stress level can be lowered a small amount and cause teenagers all around to breathe a sigh of relief.

I understand why the time limit is there sometimes. In AP Stats, we had a time limit on one of our tests simply because people were taking two hours to solve four problems. No, I am not exaggerating. But for the ACT and SAT, those are actually kind of important for our futures. I probably would have scored a couple points higher on the ACT had I not been looking at the clock every two seconds. “I sometimes waste time trying to figure out how much time I have left,” Meyer said.

This dates back to elementary school for me. During that one really short math ITED (or ITBS or Iowa Assessment or whatever it is now), I got about three problems done because I couldn’t focus since we had about five minutes to complete 20 problems. It’s not that I didn’t understand, it’s that I broke down under the stress. And I was in third grade. That is not how we should be assessing our knowledge.

Our ITED scores determined back in middle school who would be in “advanced” science and who would be in “normal” science. A bunch of my friends were put into “normal” science with me because we simply couldn’t handle the time limit of ITEDs. Removing that time limit would allow us to actually show what we know, and not how we handle stress. I’m still a little bitter about being put in “normal” science (I was the only person in Science Olympiad back in freshman year who wasn’t in “advanced” science).

I think we should remove unnecessary time limits on testing. I say this meaning that we shouldn’t have tests to where we have to answer four questions per minute and unreasonable things like that. An hour for a stats test seems reasonable to me. We should be able to spend as much time as we want on the ACT and SAT, considering they’re affecting our future. Putting time limits on our knowledge is restricting our abilities to work out problems, and I think we should be allowed to apply what we know at our own pace.