How standardized testing affects mental health

By: Mary Koch

Standardized tests are used in many different countries around the world to understand better what students know and what they have learned. It seems like a simple and effective way to see students’ knowledge on different topics, but they don’t always have the most accurate or helpful outcomes.

Tests give students anxiety which can worsen their performances. Many colleges and universities rely on testing when they’re going through applications. With so much riding on these tests, and so much pressure put on students, it shouldn’t be surprising that their work isn’t always their best.

Students who have more responsibilities outside of school, are in advanced classes, or have extracurricular activities have a lower chance of doing well, and many parents and guardians are very concerned with their students performing well. Extra stress from parents and being generally overworked gives students a general dislike for school and the education system.

Cortisol is a hormone the body produces when under stress. In a study done in Texas, students on average actually have 15% more cortisol the morning of a test than they do on a regular day.

Tests’ pressure on students has been proven to increase depression and anxiety. Scores have also caused low self esteem. When low scores are earned, disapproval from parents and guardians, and also themselves, is common, and students often feel like failures or like they’re not good enough.

With students who have a lot to do in and out of school, adding hours of study time a night isn’t good for their wellbeing. Even for students who have more time at home, or are taking easier classes, having to spend all your time studying and practicing for tests is unfair.

Standardized tests aren’t completely accurate. Different circumstances for students should be taken into consideration, so the students have a better chance of succeeding.

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