The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

College Proficiency Exams Fail

Anyone who has taken the SAT can easily recall the notoriously long hours of being stuck in one room with the tedious sections of math and verbal. Perhaps the most dreaded part was the stress of knowing that most colleges are required such a test, and a decent score at that.

Now imagine if it was required to take another exam similar to the SAT’s half way through your college experience to measure academic proficiency. (While the test can be attempted numerous times, a failure would result in a student not receiving a degree.) This is precisely what students who attend the City University of New York (CUNY), Northern State University in South Dakota, and Illinois State University are all faced with.

For CUNY, the required proficiency exam is taken after the student has earned 45 credits, has a grade point average of over 2.0, and also completed the college’s Basic Skills reading and writing requirements.

According to CUNY Kingsborough Community Web site, the purpose of the exam is to “help students develop their proficiency in academic and professional reading, writing and critical thinking needed to achieve their goals.” The question everyone should be asking is why this exam is necessary in the first place.

Considering the controversy linked to standardized tests, it is surprising that any institute of higher learning would require this of its students. Standardized testing leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of all poor test-takers. This type of exam would be every poor test-taking student’s worst nightmare.

Recently, some universities including the University of Texas have dropped the requirement for prospective students’ SAT scores. These schools grasp the concept that different people perform different ways and that standardized tests cannot adequately measure college success.

What if a student performed well all four years and when they finally were only one test away from receiving their long-awaited, hard-earned degree, and it was snatched away from the tips of their fingers because they flunked that exam? Injustice is the first word that comes to mind.

Sure, making certain its students are able to perform college-level work is not a negative thing. However, schools like CUNY should not have the right to deny any student their hard-earned degree, even if a portion of these students do not care about writing an exceptional, college level paper, or being able to work college-level math. Students who go to college usually have an intended goal in mind, even if it is not completely clear yet.

Students are not coming to St. John’s to repeat the SAT experience once they have been admitted to college, especially if the test has little to do with students’ intended majors. St. John’s realizes that students are not all the same. St. John’s appreciates diversity. They should also continue to appreciate others’ learning tendencies.

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