The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
6 Points

Should the Standardized testing (such as the SAT) be Abolished?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/14/2013 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,795 times Debate No: 37694
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)




This debate is intended for my further education as to why such a falible system, such as the SAT, is still regarded as a highly academic resource for college application. I have my arguments but I would like someone to open up as to why this type of standardized testing should be retained. The areas the contendor should cover are the following:

1. The reliability of the SAT and tests like it
2. The reasoning behind its application to college admission

Thank you to whoever feels that they have a good answer to this question and takes on this controversial issue.
Debate Round No. 1


I was hoping the opposition would open up the argument first. However, I do not mind I will open up. Please keep in mind that I have done a lot of research into this subject and have given both sides considerable thought. This is the conclusion I have reached. Standardized testing should be abolished.

Please keep in mind as well that my opponent asked me to change my argument from the SAT exclusively, to standardized testing in general. I reluctantly accepted. I have more expertise in the more exclusive realm but I can debate this philosophy. I would like to center the arguments around college admission standardized test. I do have arguments against standardized test in high school and before, but, I believe the opposition will agree, that topic is too general to have a profitable debate. Hence, I will use the SAT as an example in my argument, but I believe it can apply to all tests of the same nature.

(1) Kids today are being measured by tests like never before. There are more tests given to school kids in America than anywhere else in the world (Kohn par. 2). The frequent giving of these tests makes the test no longer efficient for determining an accurate score.

However, there are other factors that are associated with test scores from the SAT. Backgrounds of students contribute to the difference in state scores more than any other factor (Kohn par. 3). The only one of these factors that should make an educational difference is parents’ education. Other factors, such as poverty rate and number of parents, have just as much to do with state scores as how well a student does on the test itself (Kohn par. 3).

(2) There are several flaws that naturally flow from the SAT’s structure. One is the difficulty factor. If a student gets all the basics in a subject down but fails to know anything advanced, then his score will be average or less. However, if a student doesn’t know the basics, yet knows how to find the difficult and medium question and guess well, then his score will be average to exceptional (Long par. 7-12).

(3) In order to analyze skills a test would have to practically measure all scenarios in which such skills would be used (Goslin 58). A great writer can fluff up any essay, but if the SAT gives a student a prompt that the student has no knowledge about, then his essay will be weaker than it should be. Perhaps a speed-reader knows how to get the information needed out of the reading portion of the test, yet a bookworm runs out of time because she enjoys reading word for word.

(4) The element of redundancy regarding the SAT is obvious (Crouse 50). The SAT only shows results in subjects that are already available in other forms. If a student is an exceptional math student then s/he will have a good grade in whatever math courses s/he took.

(5) Students are not the only ones negatively affected by the SAT. First, it affects the teachers. Teachers are more motivated for their students to do well on tests than the students to learn (Herman and Golan 5-11). Second, it affects the subjects. When subjects have to be reduced to standardized level it can crush advanced studies in that subject (Herman and Golan 14). Standardized testing is influencing how students are learning, and even more frustrating, how teachers are teaching (Herman and Golan 62).

(6) Education reform should be all about creating an environment more conducive for learning (Stiggins 7). This does not only assist the students, but teachers, college administrators, and parents will all benefit from a new balance of assessing and teaching (Stiggins 7). Assessments should not just be about learning, they should be for the sake of learning (Stiggins 7).

It is clear that education reform has to start somewhere. I have reached the conclusion that abolishing the SAT would be a perfect place to start. The problem with this “measuring tape” for education is that is measures the “building” after it has already been built.

1. Kohn, Alfie. "Standardized Testing and Its Victims." Standardized Testing and Its Victims. Education Week, 27 Sept. 2000. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.

2. Long, Lester, Jr. "SAT: The Validity and Reliability and It’s Effect on Cultural and Racial Minorities | Psychsocialissues." Psychsocialissues. PSI Publishing, 20, June 2011. Web. 13 Mar. 2013.

Goslin, David A. The Search for Ability: Standardized Testing in Social Perspective.

New York City: Russel Sage Foundation, 1963. Print.

Crouse, James. The Case Against the SAT. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1988. Print.

Herman, Joan L., and Shari Golan. Effects of standardized testing on teachers and learning--Another look. UCLA Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing, 1990.

Stiggins, Richard J. "Assessment crisis: The absence of assessment for learning." Phi Delta Kappan 83.10 (2002): 1-7.



Okay I am going to automatically go into my contentions. The reason I asked for a change in the criteria was because all standardized testing offers and aims for the same results. An evaluation of knowledge. Actually any test for that matter aims for this. The SAT itself is just one thing used within the evaluation process. I will offer rebuttals in later rounds.

Contention 1

The Purpose

This will be my main contention. So what is a standardized test.

Standardized test - A standardized test is a test that is administered and scored in a consistent, or "standard", manner.[1]

Granted this is really any test specifically , my adversary wants to debate about certain tests such as the ACT, SAT, and CPT and if they serve a purpose. So I will stick to that pretense.

A test in general is a way to gauge knowledge. When a kid goes throw high school they are subjected to multiple tests to see if they have maintained the knowledge they have learned throughout the course. If they fail this test, they are often sent back to repeat the class because the information that they do not know, is required for the next level of that specific course.

The same is applicable with tests such as the SAT and CPT. It takes the information learned throughout high school and tests the student to see if they have maintained the capability to retain the knowledge that they have learned. It is required because as shown in previous paragraph, it is required for advancement to the next level. The information you retain in high school is a necessity within college. Without knowing how to properly construct a sentence, or how to do basic algebra you will not succeed in college.

So someone may ask if they passed it already, why am I subjected to it again. Because tests like the SAT and CPT gauge all the information learned throughout high school[2][3]. Since some of these courses are taught within a 4 year time period. The ACT and SAT is a way to gauge if all the information was retained.

They do this because if the student does not know the information that is required, they can start college out in some basic classes to review the concepts taught in high school. So it is only logical to assume, this needs to be used within the application process. Some schools are much harder than others, and require you to know much more information. If someone can not score high on a test that gauges basic knowledge, they will probably not do so well with tests that difficult college offers [2].

Contention 2

College and High school have adopted stricter standards.

"New shared learning expectations call the Common Core State Standards have been voluntarily adopted by 45 states"[4]

Most schools and most states are now being subjected to a higher level of expectation on a national and global level. We are ranked very low (actually in double digits) in regards to education and performance.

"The United States places 17th in the developed world for education, according to a global report by education firm Pearson."[5]

In regards to our fall in the academic field most colleges and high schools are getting and will continue to get more difficult because of the lens we are under. These tests are a necessity to gauge the knowledge that is being taught. Without them, there would be no way to really gauge how much a student has learned.

Contention 3

Tests are necessary

As I have shown a little in the previous contention, tests are a necessity in gauging the information taught in school. Whether it be the ACT, SAT, or CPT all of them are required to judge a persons knowledge.

"Tests are usually developed to make decisions about the ability or knowledge of people. In order to make these decisions, we have to know the meaning of each decision category and the consequences of the student being there. It is often convenient to develop a test by working backward from this point. In the classroom, for example, we assign letter grades of A, B, C, and so forth."[6]

This type of tests are used to help the student, help the school help the student, and even help future employers and prospects. Employers even review these scores to help gauge someones ability to make decisions under pressure[6]. Tests are essential as a gauge for knowledge. It makes someone recall and react in a short time frame. These same type of expectations are often needed in the workforce.

In Closing

Standarized testing in both school and in the college application process are a necessity. It is a way for the school, the college, and future employers to gauge a stundes decision making under pressure. It also helps guide the placement process.

Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank Con for his speedy response. I would also like to agree with his thesis that all standardized testing is an evaluation of knowledge, including the SAT. With this common ground to work with, let us move on.

While Con made a good case for retaining the SAT (and tests like it) based on the fact the knowledge must be evaluated, he failed to address any of the six issues I brought up. I am unsure whether this is because he deemed them irrelevant or because he thought they were to specific to the SAT. I am hoping in the final round the issues I address will be dealt with by my opponent.

"My adversary wants to debate about certain tests such as the ACT, SAT, and CPT and if they serve a purpose. So I will stick to that pretense."

The issue is not whether these tests serve a purpose. The issue is should these tests be abolished because the purpose they serve is not what is really happening. Granted, I do want this debate to be more philosophical in nature, the fact is these tests' purpose of evaluating knowledge are not accurate measures.

Let me clearly state my thesis. Standardized testing, such as the SAT, has become the “measuring tape” for education. It has long been discussed whether or not this standard is a wise measure for today’s students. I would argue that standardized testing, such as the SAT, is useless for college admission, because it is an inaccurate evaluation of knowledge.

Con wisely made the statement that tests are necessary. I do agree there. There must be some form of evaluating knowledge. But standardized tests, such as the SAT, are not the tests that are necessary. Tests are necessary, but they do not have to be standardized and I believe they should not be.

I will provide and imperfect allegory to explain my position:

Imagine there is an owl sitting on the limb of a fairly tall tree. The owl desires to have a bodyguard to chase away hunters. He invites three different animals (a lion, a monkey, and a goldfish) to come take a test in order to prove their worthiness for this thrilling career.

Professor Owl explains to these animals that in order for him to be able to judge every animal correctly he has standardized a test for all of them to take. The test, to see who is best equipped, is the animal that climbs up the tree Professor Owl is sitting on in the best manner. The results would be as follows.

The lion would make it up the tree eventually. However, all along the way he will slip and struggle and look kind of brainless all along the way. The monkey will make it up the tree easily because it is in its very nature to climb trees its whole life. The goldfish will never even have a chance based on it’s living conditions and will be forced to stay in those conditions its whole life.

As you can see, standardized testing fails to be fair in many different regards. The lion in this analogy would probably be the best bodyguard, yet the test did not accurately measure the lion’s abilities in this regard. The monkey would probably be a pretty bad bodyguard, but the monkey knew how to excel at one test. The goldfish story is tragic, yet the goldfish is not useless in the field of body guarding. Perhaps the goldfish had thought of a way to distract hunters from wanting to hunt owls. There is no way of knowing because one standardized test destroyed any chance for this golden friend.

The point of this analogy is to show that people are born with different abilities and different situations. A standardized test of knowledge is not useful in measuring everyone’s abilities and it neglects to factor in everyone’s situations. Education must be conducive for all people to excel in their God-given abilities.

Of course the first argument used against this kind of analogy is that we are all humans not several different specifies. However, I would contend that if we were honest we all know that each of us has different gifts and situations that make us who we are. This is a good thing and education should be conducive for it.

What would replace standardized testing? Perhaps the answer is individual interviews for each student with various colleges. . Regardless of the solution that needs to be found there is no solution in maintaining a useless standardized test.

Remember that I based this argument around a certain type of testing. This testing is for an evaluation of knowledge that carries weight in regards to college admission. This is important because if it is an inaccurate measure of knowledge, then students are being cheated out of a good education.

In conclusion, we do need to have testing to evaluate knowledge. I believe the SAT, and tests like it, should be abolished and we should explore new ways of evaluating knowledge. I would like to thank Mikal for his participation. I have followed your other debates and you are a skilled Debater and I respect you gratefully. Thanks to all who read this! :)



I was not neglecting the arguments you made, but saving them for this round. I believe Pro is new. It usually is R1 acceptance, R2 cases, and R3 rebuttals and closing. That is what I was attempting to do. I always save direct responses for the last round. If that is the case, I would also like to welcome pro to the site.

Rebuttal 1

Kids are exposed to way to many tests.

Just because there are quite a few tests does not negate the necessity for how many tests are being given. I have shown the necessity of all these tests in my prior contentions. There are a great number of ways to limit testing without removing the need for tests that are drastically needed. As I previously stated, the end of the year, or end of highschool tests are given to measure the amount of knowledge a student has received. If he is not able to handle the information at a highschool level, he will not be able to handle it on a college level. If Pro wanted to make a argument for test limitation, it should have been the number giving within a year on a regular school year and not the ones that help judge the information retained throughout highschool or the year in general.

Rebuttal 2


Again this goes back into my previous statements. The difficultly is the way it is because of the need to gauge someone on a college level. He makes the argument essentially that if someone can find the answer, they don't need to know the basics, and if someone knows the basics they don't need to know the advanced stuff. "Advanced stuff" is required in college. In regards to knowing the answer without knowing the basics, this is only in response to the question being asked. If someone knows the basics, it helps them understand every applicable problem that is related to that subject. Also we have some of the most lax testing in the world(see my sources from R2). Which is why the difficulty is increasing the way it is.

Rebuttal 3

How to gauge topics

This is self explanatory. These types of tests are split into parts. It gives an individual score on each part. Math, science, English, etc. Which is the beauty of it. If someone excels at math and does bad in English, this is pointed out in that test. So he knows what he needs to work on and is placed in the correct classes to help him understand the knowledge that he needs in college. Again bear in mind the time limit on this test is set to measure people under pressure. This is just one thing taken into consideration in the application process.

Rebuttal 4

(this seems the same as 3 in a way)

See rebuttal 3

Rebuttal 5


I am reduced to character limits but this will be brief. It needs to put pressure on teachers. Some teachers are way to lax. If you take a look at Finland who is leading the world in education at the moment, most of their basic school teachers have a 6 year degree. This is also not the only way teachers are gauged either. It is absurd to say so. It is suppose to reflect some of their teaching ability, but the school and government are well aware that if students fail, it can very possibly be the student and not the teacher. Granted sometimes it can be the teacher.

Rebuttal 6

Creating an environment for learning

I think he means to say, create an ideal situation in which learning can flourish and students can do better. I agree entirely but do not see how tests limit this. You still need a way to gauge what is being taught. In this case I would say cut some classes and add more. Teach critical thinking and debating in school, to teach students how to respond to certain situations and how to think sharply.

He says this

"Assessments should not just be about learning,they should be for the sake of learning"

That is fallacious from the start, because an assessment at its core is not about learning at all. It is about seeing what has been gained, not the actual process of learning material. That was done prior to the test itself.

Rebuttal 7


He gives a metaphor about a owl and different type of animals in an attempt to show that a test can not determine the skills one person possesses. Again this is fallacious. A test does not or should not pick up on a variety skill sets. It picks up on the material that is being taught in a certain area.

He says this

"What would replace standardized testing? Perhaps the answer is individual interviews for each student with various colleges"

This essentially already happens. You can be called in to talk to people and tell why you want to go to school there, and there is also an essay section for this. The SAT is not the sole way you are evaluated for college, but a tool to help.

In Closing

I believe there is no reason to abolish the sat and have seen no reason to believe so. If anything should be argued, it is to limit testing within the year. Standarized testing helps pick out what students need help with, and helps colleges and schools judge what classes they can help the student with. It is a really good gauge for practial knowledge that has been taught.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
Con said that the standard DDO format was to put arguments and rebuttals in separate rounds. I don't think so. I can't recall ever using that format in a debate here, although it's certainly used sometimes. If you want that format, you have to specify it in the challenge. I think it is more common to have R1 for acceptance, R2 and R3 with arguments and rebuttals mixed, and R4 for the instigators rebuttal to R3 and summaries by both debaters. But whatever it is, it should be stated in the challenge if you care.

Con should have run the spell checker and checked stuff like "pretense" <> "premise", "to" <> "too". Annoying, but not bad enough to ding S&G. I think it is confusing to have large titles like "CONTENTION 1". Better to use something like "1. Tests are necessary for evaluating students." ... or whatever the contention actual is.
Posted by Mikal 3 years ago
@Roy Also a good point on poverty effecting grades. I would not have thought to bring that up even if there were not limited words. I wanted to bring the coloration between testing in countries who are excelling in academia. I was going to try to focus on that, because testing brought up the average scores exponentially. I could not fit it with thefew characters either way sadly.
Posted by RoyLatham 3 years ago
I thought this debate was a bit light on information, which is understandable given the specialized nature of the subject.

The present common method of college admissions is to compute an index based about half on high school GPA and half on high school GPA. The recent well-researched book "Mismatch" describes the method. The index turns out to be a good predictor of college performance. A predictor cannot be perfect because some students catch fire and work hard in college and others lose interest and under perform. When students are admitted under affirmative action, school do the equivalent of adding 200 to 300 points to the SAT score. If test score were arbitrary or too inaccurate to be useful, then students admitted with the extra points would fail at the same rate as other students. What happens is that tests are good predictors and students fail exactly as one would expect from the test scores. Testing works well, if not perfectly.

Con used many out-of-date sources. The SAT was revised substantially in 1992. Before 92, the SAT was an IQ test. It measured students ability to learn. That works well, but it doesn't measure achievement. The revision modified the test to include a component of achievement.

Con's case relied upon confusing correlation with causation. There are reasons why children of minorities and poor families have poor test scores. They include social dysfunction that leaves students unmotivated, poor schools in poor communities, and so forth. Nonetheless, the tests are accurate in predicting college success. The remedy is to fix the social problems, and until that happens make sure the student goes to a school appropriate to his level of ability. Testing can perform that function.
Posted by Mikal 3 years ago
Sadly i was constrained and could not offer more. I noticed after i accepted it there was a limit on characters. I spent the entire third round having to offer responses to multiple contentions rather than rebuilding on what I mentioned to begin with.
Posted by Mikal 3 years ago
I will take it under 2 situations

One: You change the criteria so that i can accept

two : Instead of the SAT, label this as standardized testing. Which is what I am assuming you meant to say. Such as the SAT and CPT etc
Posted by Noctan 3 years ago
It already is. They're making the SBACK now.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Juan_Pablo 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: I understood Pro's arguments and agreed with many of them. However, standardized testing isn't meant to attach a general value to individuals in society. Standardized testing is used to determine what an individual is good at and what he needs improvement in. Yes, it's true that we're all different, but standardized testing is used to determine our proficiencies and inadequacies in specific subjects. I therefore had to reward points to Con for his more convincing arguments. However, I will add that most standardized tests in public schools fail to acknowledge other traits and skills that can be useful in society. A variety of educators actually agree with me on this final point.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro and Con seemed to agree that some kind of testing is needed to assess student performance. the status quo is that tests like the SAT are used. To affirm a change in the status quo, Pro must show that something else is better than the existing tests. He started just arguing that there should be something new, then he said that maybe interviews by each school might be better. Interviews are already standard practice, and in any case Pro didn't offer any evidence that there was some alternative that would be better. Pro was essentially arguing that the SAT has defects, which is not affirming that the system would be better without it. Its one thing to show that a thermometer has inaccuracies, but another thing to prove a thermometer should be abolished without a replacement. Con argued weakly, I thought, but Pro clearly did not meet the burden of proof. ... More in comments.