Tests should no longer be timed

Alaina Galasso, Opinions' Editor

You usually know the material, that’s the most frustrating part. In the majority of most cases, you know the answer to every single question but the clock continues to tick down, so you have no choice but to circle random answers and hope for the best. Even if you weren’t positive of the answers, if you had more time maybe you would have been able to use logic to work out the problems. If only you had more time…

Tests and quizzes should not be timed because it puts unnecessary stress on students and prevents scores from accurately judging what a student does or does not know.

Timing tests and quizzes can actually give students anxiety. In the United States people specifically use mathematics as an example. Due to what they call “math anxiety,” a third of all students are forced to be placed in remedial math courses simply because they cannot keep up with the timed tests.  The problem lies in the fact that the students are not able to successfully execute the problems and then become extremely stressed out. Psychologists like Sian Beilock (psychology professor at University of Chicago) have discovered that this stress actually impedes the part of the brain that restores facts.

Due to the levels of stress caused by timing, tests no longer are an accurate judge on what a student has learned. To the contrary, standardized test now instead depict how well a student can take a test while under time constraints. A student could know all the material but still do poorly because they either didn’t have enough time to accurately complete each problem or because they didn’t get to finish all the questions. This is evident among multiple students, from seventh grade classrooms where students are forced to complete math problems in three minutes (http://www.mathsolutions.com/documents/9781935099031_message18.pdf) to students taking the SAT and ACT who have to bubble the last questions randomly for the slight chance of getting the answer correct.

Students should be given unlimited time for all tests and quizzes, even for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. Any student would most likely improve if they were given as much time as they need. If standardized tests offered unlimited time then so could tests and quizzes within school, which are for the most part are only timed to prepare students for standardized tests. Timing tests only helps the graders and decreases the time teachers have to spend administering them, but isn’t it much more important that students perform as well as they possibly can? Quick thinking usually only helps students in certain emergencies, but with math problems or reading it is not entirely necessary. If the purpose of timed tests is to compare students intellect with one another, then all students should have the same time, but since not all students work in the same way then all students should be allowed to manage their time as they wish. If students were given unlimited time then they could work out each and every problem to the best of their ability and there would be an overall decrease of stress.