The PSAT: Is it worth taking?

  • October 9, 2017

On October 14, most LCHS students were focused on preparing for the Homecoming dance. But for some determined scholars, the PSAT had to come first.

The PSAT, or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, is an optional exam that allows students to test their skills in reading, grammar, and mathematics. The test not only prepares students for the real SAT, but also exemplifies the kind of knowledge they’ll need for college.

Yet despite the benefits of taking the PSAT, most high schoolers are torn over whether they should take it. The colleges they apply to don’t accept these scores, so what’s the point of having the test at all? While sending test scores to colleges indicates a student’s interest in their university, it also gives colleges a way to determine what skill level their applicants are at academically.

“[With] thousands of high schools across the country, they all have different educational curriculums,” explains counselor Yvonne Hays. “The colleges need a tool to standardize [the students’ abilities].”

But struggling to balance schoolwork, extracurriculars, and relationships makes it difficult to find time to study. Because of this, Tara Donaghy (10) feels that taking the test in sophomore year isn’t necessary.

“[If you take the exam in junior year], you’re more likely to get a better score,” she explains.

On the other hand, taking the exam offers experience that will be invaluable for college exams. When Annika Russell (12) recalls how she managed to study for the SAT, something she kept in mind was timing.

“When I took the PSAT, I [planned] to take the SAT a few weeks after. I think [taking it beforehand] helped me get a feel for what the real test is like. Plus, junior year would be the obvious year to take it, since that’s when kids are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program,” Annika advises.

This program is especially prestigious, and students that normally qualify for it receive the top one percent of scores in the nation.

There are plenty of great benefits the PSAT has to offer, and doing well on the exam definitely has its advantages. But for those that are still skeptical, there are other ways to prepare for the SAT. Students can also improve their scores by taking classes that challenge them intellectually. Upperclassmen have also been relying on different resources, such as workbooks or tutoring, as their main sources of SAT preparation.

At the end of the day, the PSAT is just another resource designed to help students succeed. Obviously students should choose preparation methods that work best for them, but the PSAT is a great tool that they should take into consideration.

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