As a rising senior at Lafayette College, I have started looking into (or should have started looking into a while ago - oops) graduate school. Since I've been double majoring in Government & Law as well as Religious Studies, it only seems logical for me (in my opinion at least) to go on to law school after graduation and register for the LSAT this fall. Only, registering for the LSAT itself with no extra fees costs $180 - something this broke college student is struggling to put together. But wait, there's more! You can't possibly forget the LSAT test prep books that are upwards of $20 on Amazon, various LSAT test prep classes (Kaplan Test Prep courses start at $799), and, if you're into that sort of thing, LSAT flashcards that range from $13.46 to $47.68 on Amazon.
Let's do some quick math. Assuming that you're on a "budget," but you want to be overly prepared for the exam, you buy a prep book, sign up for the least expensive Kaplan prep course, and buy a pack of flashcards on top of registering for the exam. Accounting for the few extra dollars of shipping and handling, that's $180 + ~$25 + $799 + ~$15 which comes to a whopping grand total, or minimum I should say, of $1,019. Just to take one exam! An exam that plays an enormous role in the fate of many students wishing to attend their dream law schools. (While I did not do any research into the costs of applying and preparing for the GRE, GMAT, or MCAT, I think it's safe to say that those graduate admissions exams are comparable, if not more expensive, to the costs of the LSAT.)
I don't know about you, but I would rather spend most of my nonexistent money on $1.90 24 oz coffees at the Wawa near my college - something (albeit small) much more affordable, enjoyable, and admittedly necessary to fuel my caffeine addiction.
But on a more serious note, what do these rigid standardized exams provide to colleges and universities? At their core, only an easier, more convenient way for admissions employees to determine students' capabilities. While standardized testing has been around for years, since the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act and the Common Core State Standards Initiative, standardized testing has become today's norm. Some, if not all exams have gained a weighty deciding role in determining students' futures. Remember the SAT and ACT? How many times did you take one, or even both exams just to improve and get the score you wanted for your top school choice, or end up with the same score? How much did you or your parents/guardians cough up to pay for these multiple exams? How many hours did your teachers spend drilling you on strategies - not material - to earn better scores during school instead of, I don't know, teaching us something new? How many extra classes did you attend that taught you even more of these strategies - all at an exorbitant extra cost?
My point is, why do we agree to passively sit in a desk for hours, taking exams we payed hundreds of dollars for, and even more to prepare for, just for the sake of one person in an admissions office glancing briefly over only our GPAs and test scores and deciding our fate? Aren't we more dynamic than a number on a piece of paper? If not as individuals, then as a species?
Those who are proponents of standardized testing would argue that there are ways to account for this - essay portions. But I'd love for anyone to tell me that the human eyes required to read hundreds of essays in one sitting don't glaze over after the first dozen, assigning whatever score gets them out of there the fastest. Not to mention the fact that the simple math I did above would put hundreds of thousands of students at a disadvantage (including myself) when it comes to preparing, or even registering, for these exams that ultimately determine their future enrollment as students.
While there may be no simple answer or fix to the issue, there is no arguing that standardized testing in general, not just the LSAT or graduate school admissions exams, does not do students justice when it comes to accurately analyzing their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom.