No test can truly measure “aptitude” for academic success because school performance is not based on a single factor. Math and verbal skills — the qualities measured by tests such as the SAT, GMAT and LSAT — are just one component. Non-cognitive traits, such as creativity, motivation and “grit,” also play significant roles. High school grades are a more accurate predictor of college outcomes than any test because grades better capture the many characteristics that improve the chances of graduation.Moreover the nature of these standardized exams — fast-paced, multiple-choice “games” that put a premium on strategic guessing — means that they advantage students with strong test-taking skills, not necessarily those with other talents that may be more valuable in the classroom or in life. Finally, the concept of “aptitude” assumes that it is innate and unchangeable. In fact, humans can develop the knowledge, skills and experiences that improve performance, if given the opportunity. Test designers have quietly acknowledged this reality by removing labels such as “aptitude,” “ability,” and “intelligence” from their products’ titles. The public would be better served by avoiding use of these misleading terms.
April 22, 2014 at 4:24 PM EDT