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Do Standardized Tests Measure Educational Quality?

May 28, 2020

Standardized tests play a key role in today’s education system. They can take the form of aptitude tests that measure scholastic readiness or achievement tests that measure subject-specific knowledge. But how well do standardized tests measure educational quality?

Arguments in Favor of Standardized Tests

There are various arguments in favor of standardized tests. Here are the main reasons why they are good for measuring educational quality.

Standardized Tests Enable Consistent Assessment

Every teacher grades pupils differently. When college admissions committees only see overall grade point averages, nuances between teachers with higher and lower expectations are lost. So, standardized testing can act as a balancing force. Standardized tests can provide colleges with objective data with which they can compare prospective candidates.

Standardized Tests Prepare Students for College

If students attend high schools that do not offer advanced placement courses or a large number of extracurricular activities, standardized testing can enable students to set themselves apart from their high schools. Tests like the ACT and SAT give students the chance to show they are smart and motivated, so they will not be judged on their high schools when applying for college. And passing some specific standardized tests is required to gain entry to some degree programs. For instance, passing the Law School Admission Test is vital for prospective law school students. As for LSAT dates and deadlines, the test is held four times a year, in February, June, September or October, and December, and the registration deadline is about one month before the test date.

If students are enrolled in highly competitive high schools, standardized testing can also be beneficial. That is because it enables students to show they are intelligent and qualified, even if being in a class of many high-achieving students prevents them from being top of their classes.

Arguments Against Standardized Tests

Opponents of standardized tests typically say the test promotes a teaching-to-the-exam study method, meaning students only learn-and-repeat what is required by the curriculum. The opponents say that undermines students’ abilities to innovate and critically think. They, therefore, believe that standardized tests are not the best way of measuring student performance.

Teaching to the Test

Standardized testing means the main focus is on obtaining high grades. That means teachers feel compelled to teach students solely so that they can pass the tests. And in some schools, teachers spend less time teaching the arts and social sciences because they feel it is more important to prepare students for standardized tests in areas like math and English. That can lead to a less-rounded education for students.

Multiple Choice Tests

Standardized tests consist of multiple-choice questions or open-ended questions, and some feature both. Opponents of standardized tests that only use the multiple-choice format say the tests are too simplistic and do not reflect accurate student intelligence. On the other hand, tests that feature open-ended questions enable students to show their knowledge and apply critical thinking, often through extended responses.

Final Thoughts

Standardized tests are good because they are quantifiable and enable comparisons. But, as noted above, there is a negative side to standardized testing. There are other measures that can show how well schools and students are performing, such as graduation rates, enrollments in advanced placements and other college prep courses, and college remediation rates for recent high school graduates.

So, do standardized tests measure educational quality? Yes, they do. However, if they are used as the sole source of measuring educational quality, they are not wholly reliable. Standardized tests should be just one of many measures that are used to evaluate students’ abilities and their readiness for college or a career.

Student Life Uncategorized

Benefits of Extracurricular Activities for College Students

April 29, 2020

With the increasing pressure of getting good grades and the overall task of completing academics, ever wonder why our schools and parents prioritize extracurricular activities so much?

According to the US Census Bureau, a survey of school-aged children showed that 42% of these children were involved in sports, 30% were engaged in lessons, 28% were involved in clubs and a significant 9% of an over-enthusiastic bunch was involved in all three of these extracurricular activities.

These figures highlight and answer our question as to why extracurriculars are so essential apart from academics.

5 Essential Reasons Why Extracurricular Activities Are Great

However, here are five amazing reasons why extracurricular activities are totally worth your time and energy if you are still confused about investing in your academic resources.

  1. Exploring hobbies, passions, and interests

Extracurricular activities are separate from your academics. It is why you have the power to choose whatever you are passionate about. You can explore your interests and hobbies like art, pottery, gardening, and any other activity. You are not bound like in academics to study and pass your exam with flying colors. Your motives are purely driven by passion. You succeed and thrive to do it because you choose to and you might even find a newer interest that you can take up as your career in the future.

  1. Contributing to higher self-esteem

Acing studies is really tremendous, but doing well in extracurricular is an automatic self-esteem booster. Choosing what you love to do because you do it well is different. But doing something well because love to do it and you were passionate about is a groundbreaker. Not only will it help you get higher self-esteem and self-satisfaction, but it is a highly motivating, contributing factor to having a better life ahead.

  1. Better opportunities for socializing

Extracurricular activities are a great way to socialize and make new friends. Not only do you get to have a social circle, but those friends share your interests with you too. You get to talk about your interests, share thoughts, and create a community based on what you all do best and create a connection over your mutual passion.

  1. Fun apart from studies

As mentioned earlier, extracurricular activities are fun apart from studies. It is a healthy and constructive way of spending time doing something you like and are actually passionate about. It helps you take time out for yourself whenever you are stressed about studies and other responsibilities of your life.

  1. A valuable addition to your resume

Extracurricular activities add value to your resume. Nowadays, transferable skills that are learned from your outside hobbies and passions can be more relevant than academic achievements, not to mention making you stand out from the crowd of applications they have. Adding any kind of additional activities can only help you when it comes to your resume.

All in all, extracurricular activities are fun and engaging! Remember, when posed with the idea of being able to integrate hobbies and passions with real life, you should always take the opportunity and remember these 5 things, but don’t forget to put your academics first.

Bio: Claudia Jeffrey is currently working as a Content Strategist at Crowd Writer and Premium Jackets, excellent platform for dissertation editing service UK. She herself is heavily involved in sports and was an active participant in other extracurricular activities during her high school years. You can read her blogs at WordCountJet as well.

Student Life Uncategorized

Finding Community in College

August 15, 2019

Starting a new school can be frightening, especially if you are moving far away from the friends and family you are so accustomed to seeing. There are many things you can do to feel settled on campus, but one of the most important is finding a community. When you have your own “college family”, the transition to college life is much smoother. Here are five tips that will help you to find community in college:

Attend a Pre-Orientation Program

A great way to go into college with some friends under your belt is attending a pre-orientation program. Many colleges are offering this as an option to incoming freshmen. It is a great way to connect with people who have similar interests as you and are also new to the university. This is also a great way to become acquainted with the university before campus becomes busy. 

Introduce Yourself to People in Your Dorm Hall or Apartment

You never know if your new best friend is living in the dorm right next to you! It can be a great idea to keep your door open when you are in your dorm and go around and say hi to your neighbors. 

Join Clubs!

Clubs are obviously a great way to meet others who have similar interests. There are so many different options for clubs that students can join. There are many clubs that specialize in different interests and cultural backgrounds. You can feel more at home if you can connect with people who come from similar backgrounds.


Another way to make connections is through volunteer work. Volunteering is a great way to get out into your community and meet new people. Many universities provide opportunities to do service on campus and in the surrounding area. 

Make the First Move

When you are starting out in college, it is important to put yourself out there. If you are proactive about meeting new people are fostering friendships, you should have no problem finding your community on campus.

With the new year beginning, be sure to remember these tips from GradGuard and get comfortable with your new home! It truly is the best time of your life so be sure to enjoy it.

Student Life Uncategorized

7 Ways to Find More Time to Study and Utilize It Efficiently

July 26, 2017

I want to graduate. I want to achieve great results at college. Who doesn’t?  Students understand the way learning affects their entire future. But, we still want to get the most out of this period, and that means having fun. It means meeting new people. It means all-nighters not for studying, but for watching films, ordering pizza and having laughs.

How do I manage to deal with all that pressure?
I found the solution in proper organization. Being an effective student doesn’t mean you have to study all day and all night long. Success lies in time management. I’ll suggest 7 helpful tips that hopefully will help you find more time to study without sucking the fun away from college life.

1. Every Day Is a Great Day for Studying
When you start your college education, you may think that you have many years ahead and you may not feel the urge to hit the books as soon as you get them. However, it’s all about your individual development, gaining essential knowledge and experience, and investing time and efforts into growing your personality.

In fact, we keep studying throughout the whole life. And the sooner you realize that it’s a benefit, not a burden, the better it’ll be. There’s no need to bone at subjects and stay up late in order to learn the material all too well. Learn to manage your time. Study regularly, in smaller amounts, complete the most difficult assignments first, allocate some time daily to go through your notes and the relevant studying material while your impressions from the lectures are still fresh. Be curious about what you need to learn rather than seeing it as external obligations.

2. Create a Study Zone
Keep all studying materials on the desk, and keep them in order. This studying zone should be free of distractions. Snooze the phone, or better yet – leave it in the other room.  Sit with your spine straight; the position itself will make you more focused and serious. Block all social networks with StayFocused, and you’ll be on your way to a successful studying session.

3. Strategize
Think about your month, weeks, days, and hours. Use your Google Calendar and start with a monthly plan. Do you have any projects you have to complete? Plan when you’re going to work on the different stages.

Then, focus on your weekly schedule. Include the classes you need to take, as well as the time you spend on homework. You’ll notice you have free hours throughout the day and night. You can use them to relax and hang out with friends.

In addition to Google Calendar, you should try a few other tools to support you on the strategizing mission:

iStudiez Pro – a planner app which gives you space for planning your homework assignments, tracking your schedule and grades, and managing different projects;
StudyBlue – a platform that provides students with different study guides, notes, flashcards, and more;
Instapaper – helps you to save all interesting articles you locate online. It will help you collect resources for your essays and research papers
EssaysOnTime – Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to complete all assignments, you fail. In cases like those, the professionals of this service can help you deal with your writing projects.
MindGenius – This mind-mapping tool will help turn ideas into actionable plans and tasks. You can use it to plan academic projects in all stages.

4. Understand Your Habits. Then, Shift Them
It’s easy to develop a bad habit, such as smoking or selfie-taking. But, it takes a bit of an effort to form a good habit, such as healthy eating, regular studying, and daily exercise. Watch yourself throughout the day. Are you spending too much time on Instagram or just surfing the net in search for something unimportant? Probably you are. This surely prevents you from staying focused on your tasks. Plan social media activities as a reward for completing 2-3 assignments.

When you learn not to give in to useless activities, you will definitely have more time for studying.

5. Exploit the Dead Time
• Listen to an audiobook on the bus.
• Go through your notes or read some of the studying material in between classes.
• Record the lectures and listen to them while taking a walk.
See? It’s easy to get the most out of your dead time.

6. Plan Your Errands
When students are planning their time, they are mostly focused on classes, assignments, studying, TV shows, and partying. What about cleaning, shopping, and cooking? I didn’t use to plan these things, but I realized they were wasting my time and energy. I was shopping in the morning, cooking in the afternoon, and cleaning whenever I felt like it. After each of these activities, my focus was disturbed.
• Shop once or twice a week. Make a grocery list and buy everything you need, so you won’t waste time on this errand every single day.
• Cook food for several days.
• Clean on Sundays, and keep everything in order throughout the rest of the week.

7. Plan Entertainment, Too
What kind of student would you be if you missed all chances to have fun? A lame one; that’s for sure. Still, you don’t have to go to the cinema or attend parties every single day. You don’t have to go out for the whole night, every single night.  Plan your entertainment. Whenever you have some space in the schedule, use it to reconnect with your friends. Needless to say, you should party responsibly. Drinking nights can’t be fun when you don’t remember the experience at all.

Bonus Tip: Procrastination Is Your Enemy
You just got a new task and you don’t have to do it today? Do it, anyway. When you start completing a task within the first 24 hours after you get it, you’ll be much focused on it because the instructions and initial impressions are fresh.

These 7 (well, 8 to be precise) tips will help you become a more effective student, who studies smart, not hard. Do you have anything else to add? Do you have your own methods? Do share!

Author’s Bio: Sophia Anderson is an associate educator and a freelance writer. She believes that learning something new every day is a must. Her inspiration comes from reading books and online blog posts that cover a wide range of her interests. Meet her at Facebook or LinkedIn.

Student Life Uncategorized

9 Tips to Start a Successful New Semester

August 25, 2016
Everything You Need to Know to Start Your Semester Off Right

It’s that time of year! Whether you’re a returning student just starting to get back into the swing of dealing with a structured schedule, or an incoming freshman trying to start your college experience off on the right foot, it’s important to take steps to set yourself up for success this semester.

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