The PSAT for one and all

The PSAT/NMSQT booklet

The PSAT/NMSQT booklet

Danielle Hamer, Scot Scoop In Depth Editor

Carlmont administration’s recent shift from giving all students the option of taking the Preliminary SAT to holding a mandatory testing morning devoted to the practice test is met with mixed reactions from both students and teachers.

The PSAT, an indication of which Advanced Placement classes students are ready for, and used to prepare for the SAT itself, is often regarded as unimportant, or ‘not worth anything’, while the SAT is vigorously studied for with the help of parents, teachers, classes, and even private tutoring.

PSAT scores are not recorded or sent to prospective colleges, so students often feel no need to prepare for the test, or even show up when it is held. However, the PSAT is also a screening test for those who wish to participate in the National Merit Program, which awards college scholarships for students who excel on the test.

In the past, the Saturday morning PSAT has allowed students the option to attend or not, regardless of their grade. This changed at Carlmont this year, when the test was announced as mandatory for all sophomores and juniors. The three hour test was held on a school morning.

“When I first heard that I was required to take the PSAT, I was upset,” said sophomore John Bran. “Now, I realize that it was really great practice for me, even though I will take the SAT in over a year. However, I still believe that everyone has the right to make their own choice of whether to take it or not.”

Bran is among many who believe that though the PSAT doesn’t stand out as important, it is beneficial to those who take it.

Junior Kathleen Perry said, “I think it’s a good idea to test both the sophomores and juniors, especially at school, because more people get the opportunity to take it and now will be able to learn what their strong and weak areas are on the test. Many sophomores wouldn’t have gone to an unrequired test, so it’s great that the administration made it mandatory this year.”

Despite positive feedback, there are negative opinions regarding the fact that sophomores were required to spend three hours taking a test designed to prepare for the SAT, which they will not be taking in the next year.

Sophomore Walter Christian said, “I don’t think the PSAT is necessary for sophomores because it is too soon to test us on material we haven’t learned in our classes yet. The administration should not have made the test mandatory.”

Other schools in the Sequoia Union High School District have opted to hold a Saturday morning PSAT for their students instead of implementing a mandatory PSAT during school hours.

Regardless of personal opinion, early and mandated exposure to this preliminary exam serves to familiarize teens with a test that the majority of us will be taking by instilling confidence for SATs to come and demystifying a test connected to much stress. Students who may have opted out of the PSAT now have the ability to experience the structure and content of the exam before taking the SAT.

“A mandatory PSAT for both sophomores and juniors is the best choice the school has made. For those kids who are four-year college bound, experiencing the test sophomore year is important,” said AVID and math teacher Andrew Ramroth.  “For those students who are not, it is Carlmont’s goal to help them reach the goal of college, and it can be very beneficial for them to start heading in the right direction with the PSAT, now.”

The PSAT/NMSQT booklet
The PSAT/NMSQT booklet