Thoughts on the PSAT

Emma Foster, Staff Writer

On October 16th, students at Glen Ridge High School sat down to a three hour assessment of math and English skills.

The PSAT is a standardized test administered by the College Board that high school sophomores and juniors around the nation take every fall season. It is scored out of 1520 rather than the actual 1600, but still provides a good example of what the test may look like and what students have to work on. For many, it is simply a boring test that gets students out of class for a few hours. For others, it is a measure of how well they may do on their upcoming SAT. The benefits go beyond just getting practice for the actual SAT. Those who score in the top percentiles can quality for a National Merit Scholarship, an award of great honor that looks impressive on college applications and grants some students much needed money for college.

However, beyond the surface value of the PSAT, there is a greater question about its provision at all. Do students really benefit from this tes in the ways they need to? Is it worth disrupting another school day on top of all the college related announcements and meetings? Does it only help a certain kind of student? Some students believe its value really is all that. Sophomore Holly Vincent reflects that after taking her first PSAT, she has “a better understanding of what types of questions to study for the real thing”, and feels more comfortable going forward in the process. Sophomore Mia Manzo had a similar experience, saying she got a “better sense of how long the test is and how to manage your time.” All fair points, especially since it can be hard to replicate the ‘test experience’ in your own home. 

What about the opinions of juniors who have now taken the test twice? Grant Ghaemi agrees with the previous statements, having felt his positive attitude towards the test was reinforced again this year. He adds an additional point, explaining that “since [the test] is administered for free by the College Board, it allows students from poorer neighborhoods to have at least somewhat of an equal chance of knowing what they need to work on.” As someone who has taken the SAT already, he felt it held the same benefits of preparation.

A variation of opinion comes from junior Rachel Peck, who believes “the test should be optional as not every student will even take the SAT at all.” As someone who is taking the ACT, she recognizes the danger that only having a practice SAT suggests that the SAT is the only standardized test opinion. She, along with many other students, proposes that the PSAT be optional with the addition of an optional ACT practice test.

So what do you think? Is the PSAT an effective test? Should it remain mandatory for all students, become optional, or be eliminated altogether?