An Apocalypse? No, just standardized testing.

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Forrest Gump knew what he was talking about. If only test takers could write that as their answer on the ACT or SAT.

You see, mandatory standardized tests that are used for college admission do not measure intelligence. The results are used to weed out candidates and predict capabilities.

But what college admission officials don’t realize is that each student applying to college isn’t the same; you can’t know their abilities just from their standardized test scores.

To all of those who are stressing over their standardized testing scores: It’s going to be just fine.

James Loewen, a sociologist, historian, and author, recently visited the University of Illinois to discuss his work.

One of his more well-known books, “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong,” discusses historical misconceptions that are repeatedly taught in schools.

However, it was his second lecture addressing standardized testing that relates to Forrest Gump. To demonstrate his points, he gave out a short quiz to each person in attendance. The questions were absurd, covering topics that are not generally known to a wide public.

The point of this exercise? To demonstrate how some people feel when taking standardized testing because, frankly, not everyone tests well.

Obviously, college admissions staffs cannot get to know each applicant individually on a deep level. That’s where standardized tests come in. Colleges need some kind of system to weed out the applicants, determining who will be admitted.

Of course, admittance isn’t based on standardized test scores alone. There’s also grade point averages, extracurricular activities, advanced placement exams, class schedules… The list goes on. So why do students stress themselves so much over a test?

Because on test day, pressure fills the air. For weeks, teachers continuously remind students that this test is one of the factors that determines your collegiate future. There are strict rules to be followed on test day: what pencils and calculators are acceptable, how much time students have to take the exam, what is allowed in the testing room.

There’s a lot of pressure built up for a single test. And that’s just not right.

According to, these exams aren’t testing intelligence. It predicts your academic marks your first year of college.

As the website states, “Even the test-maker admits that high school grades predict first-year college grades better than ACT scores do. In fact, adding the ACT to the high school record does not significantly improve predictions.”

You shouldn’t have to base where you apply to college on whether you got a thirty-six on the ACT, or a fifteen. It isn’t a sole determining factor. You can achieve anywhere you apply yourself.

Perhaps an unexpected event happened on test day. You got a call about a family emergency. The night before, you came down with the flu. The truth is, it is not the end of the world. It’s just a test.

These tests don’t factor in that unfortunate things happen. They don’t factor in students with learning disabilities or, simply, those who are not confident in test taking. Sure, there are retakes for standardized tests, but those usually cost money.

On test day, don’t blow the exam off, thinking that it doesn’t completely matter. Fact is that standardized tests are used for college admittance. It’s the truth.

But it’s not the sole determining factor of your future. Essays and references are important too. Take a deep breath, eat some chocolate, and have faith that everything will be just fine when the exam is over.

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Rebecca Jacobs

Rebecca Jacobs

Rebecca Jacobs is a sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a News-Editorial Journalism degree. An avid bookworm, Rebecca reads all texts Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut when she’s not busy writing for The Black Sheep on campus. Back home, she spends a vast amount of time enjoying nature with loved ones.