I have always hated standardized tests. Sure, there are many different types of standardized tests. The SAT, the ACT that are given to all students and the numerous AP exams that are prepared with a more "exclusive" audience in mind. But they're all fundamentally flawed.
The point of a standardized test, as near as I can figure it out, is to give colleges, government officials, and prospective employers an idea of what sort of person they are dealing with. That is fine; there aren't many ways to evaluate large numbers of people quickly without resorting to some form of prepackaged sets of questions to be answered in a structured format in just a few short hours.
And if everyone who dealt with standardized tests realized this, and knew that they were a best rough approximations of the truth, I would not be writing this essay. (Well, I still might, because I have a chemistry midterm that I am putting off, but I digress...)
However, teachers, schools, politicians and employers alike generally share the conviction that tests are far more important than they really are, and believe that they can learn enough about a person by how well they play the game of the test maker.
This is dangerous, because some people are very good at manipulating the system, or helping others to (and all for a fee, of course, which is doubly dangerous due to its inherent discrimination). Add to that the number of computer programs written and books published solely to help a student gain a higher score, and the proliferation of supposedly "college-level" AP classes structured and taught for the test and for the test only and with only passing consideration for how a subject might be taught for its own intrinsic merit, and it is...