I recently visited my cousin in Tampa, FL and I found him busy preparing for his SAT. In Canada students are admitted to universities based on their grade 12 average, usually taken during the midterm exams of the final semester. In my opinion, this is a wrong and biased method to channel the right talent to the right school. Canada should follow cousin America’s footsteps in this matter (and only this matter) and standardize university entrance all over Canada.
During my OAC year (Ontario Advanced Credits, extra year after grade 12 required until 2003 to get in university) I had a bad physics teacher. His marking scheme sucked. He would ding you for not giving the answer in correct significant digits, no matter how elegant your solution was. Although it is good to train students to be precise, I think he just hated me a little bit more than other students because I was going into a program at a university from which he dropped out after freshman year. Anyways, that’s not the topic here. Even with my best efforts, my final grade in OAC physics was slightly below 80% sinking my OAC average. It’s all good. Going to McMaster University has been the greatest thing in my life. It moulded me into a much stronger person (perhaps a topic for some other time). So in retrospect, I would like to thank my stingy OAC physics teacher from my core.
In my freshman year I met students from all over Ontario and not to my surprise, they all had a higher grade in Physics than me. But when it came to aptitude, I found myself in the upper echelon of the class. I even know a guy (who lived in the room across from me in the dorm) who got 90%+ in OAC Physics but did not know what F = mg means!! A grade 9 students should know that. This guy failed first year miserably (although he came back strong after repeating first year and graduated with flying colours).
Here is the thing. High school tests vary in difficulty. They cannot be used to fairly determine who goes to which school. It is not even close to being a level field. A standardized test should be made mandatory for all university applicants. No other alternative is fair. There will be a cost for setting this up but that cost will be easily realized when such a test is made mandatory. And most importantly this will build a stronger Canada with the best brains getting the best opportunity.