Exam taking in the USA

The USA provide an example of public exam taking for university entrance which is in some ways a pathway for improvement for the UK. Note, often exams are called tests in much of the language.

Although everyone can in part agree that computerised testing through multiple choice can mask a candidate’s full understanding. With negative marking for mistakes and with enough questions being asked around the subject and topic, multiple choice and computerised testing such as the SAT and GMAT are a useful tool in achieving what exams set out to achieve. (Discussed here on another blog).

School GCSE and A Level exams

Mostly, schools continue to assess each pupil through the years, with essays and internal exams producing a transcript to reflect the pupil. With added references by teachers to the colleges along with his transcripts of his years at school. Including extra curricular and sports achievements. On top of this there are exams or tests as they are called.

USA college entrance exam SAT

Here are some of the non internal exam names that pupils can take:

- Pupils in their junior year can take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), Plus, National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), a scholarship test. - Aptitude tests: To go to college (uni) in the US the last two years of school before college the pupils can sit either or both American College Testing (ACT) programme and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). These multiple choice exams are designed to test the potential of the pupils at college. Students planning to go to college take national college aptitude tests during their last two years in high school, set by various independent bodies. Some colleges also require students to take Achievement (Ach) exams. Designed specifically to measure aptitude, math and verbals skills. Seeking to measure potential.

With plenty of criticism for these type of exams. Due the nature of testing aptitude as much as the knowledge one can argue it is really a test of taking the test. More than an actual examination of the subject.

Where are the SATs exams going from here?

There is work going on to improve the SAT exams. The SAT 2 is an attempt to move away from pupils being able to be coached for the exam rather to test the subject knowledge.

We will discuss this further in future blogs.