You Are Not Your Score

By: Isabella Nilsson

There’s a disease haunting the halls of Hathaway Brown School. It’s not mono. It’s not the flu. It’s not senioritis!

It has to do with standardized testing season.

As the seniors begin to transition into a new phase of life, one involving dorms and drum circles and twenty four hour food and no morning classes, juniors have been barraged by a series of scores from a series of tests (mostly the SAT and ACT) that they have been told are irrefutable, critical, will determine their next four years, and, consequently, the rest of their lives. There are kernels of truth to this. Most (although not all!) universities do require standardized test scores, and most take them into consideration when considering an applicant, although hopefully holistically as only one facet of a complex and three dimensional person. I’m not going to sit here and lie, not going to say that test scores are unimportant. Unfortunately, we live in a world that values them as arbiters of the academic readiness of a student, and high school juniors have a right to be aware of this, to be concerned about this, and to prepare and study accordingly.

However, there is a preconception about standardized testing that is patently wrong. It has nothing to do with your intelligence or worth as a person. It measures how well you can answer specifically designed and engineered questions for a specific type of student. It does not measure how smart you are, how much you love your little sister, how talented you are at making pancakes, or if you are or are not better than your friends. And, in fact, if you think that scoring well on a test does make you better than your peers, then you have probably failed a different sort of test, a test measuring your depth and maturity as a human being.

Bill Gates scored a 1590 on his SAT.

George Bush scored a 1206.

John Kerry scored 1190.

Howard Stern got an 870!

And I don’t feel any different about any of them. Standardized tests are a high school thing. It’s what you do after you take the SAT or ACT that matters because no one is going to ask you about either when you’re president of the United States.

So, end of this little PSA: you’re beautiful. Do colleges care what score you received on a standardized test? Yes. But they also care about your grades, and whether you volunteer, and how long you’ve tap danced, and your relationship with your grandmother. To them, you are more than your scores. And at HB you have an entire college office that has your back!

But to us, your friends, your classmates? We don’t care if you got a 26 or a 36 on the ACT—it doesn’t change how we view you as a person because it has no bearing upon you as a person. You’re the exact same kid as you were before you took it, the one that always lets us cut you in the lunch line and brings cupcakes to mentor group and laughs too loud in history class. And if we’re your true friends, we know that our real job is to love and support you no matter what, regardless of your test scores or ours.

So if someone’s proud of how well they tested, that’s wonderful. They should be. But if you hear them bragging in the halls about how much higher their score was than somebody else’s? Maybe you should tell them to get some more interesting hobbies than filling out bubbles on a Saturday morning. Or tell them that making another girl feel ashamed because she couldn’t fill in those bubbles as accurately as you did isn’t really the HB style.

Image: Google Images