PSAT at Ramaz: The Inside Scoop

Tammy Palagi '21

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On Wednesday, October 30, all students in the junior class took the Preliminary SAT (PSAT). The PSAT is a test given by the College Board with the participation of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Students generally take the exam during their junior and sophomore years in high school. However, the NMSC only considers the junior scores when deciding who gets the scholarships. Sophomores and juniors take the exam in order to gain a better sense of how the actual SAT test will look, the type of questions they will be asked, if their skills are good enough to excel in the exam, and to evaluate the difference between the SAT and ACT. The NMSC works with the College Board to reward the top scorers from around the country with merit scholarship funds to the university of their choice. To become a National Merit Semifinalist, students must score in the top 1% in their state. The top 3-4% of scorers are named Commended Scholars—an impressive distinction to put on college applications. The top 1%, or about 16,000 students across the country, are named National Merit Semifinalists. To be considered for a National Merit® Scholarship, Semifinalists must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and all other requirements. In February, some 15,000 Semifinalists are notified by mail at their home addresses that they have advanced to Finalist standing. High school principals are notified and provided with a Certificate of Merit to present to each Finalist. Finalists win $2,500, and more importantly recognition and endless opportunities.

Many students who have already decided and have begun studying for the ACT, another type of standardized test, argue that it is unreasonable to make the PSAT mandatory at Ramaz. An anonymous junior said, “it is unfair to put the stress on kids to take a test if they know for sure they are taking the ACT”. On the other hand, many think that this an excellent opportunity to set aside time to practice. Rebecca Massel ’21 said, “I think that it is beneficial to take the PSAT because there are some similarities between the two tests. However, I think they should give us the PSAT in the spring of Sophomore year because most people have already chosen which test they are taking.” 

 

College advisor Dr. Honig said about the scheduling of the PSAT that “the test can only be administered in October on the dates mandated by the College Board.” She went on to say, “this test serves as a good option for figuring out future study for the SAT, as well as possibly accruing honors.” The intended goal of the test as expressed by Dr. Honig is seen favorable by many, such as Sarine Rubin ’21 who said, “I feel the PSAT is an excellent opportunity for students to see where they’re at and how much they have to improve for ACT or SAT.” 

This year, for the first time, the College Guidance Office is partnering with Applerouth Tutoring to offer students a free diagnostic ACT test on Sunday, November 17. Applerouth will grade the exams and provide a score report. This optional test is given so that students can compare their ACT scores with their PSAT scores.The school’s goal is to support juniors in figuring out the differences and styles of the two tests. Hopefully this new initiative will help juniors make this important decision and maybe a fortunate few will even earn distinctions in the process.

After a stressful few hours, students can take a breather and look to Instagram and Twitter for some #psat memes. Students from all over the U.S. laugh about the reading passages and how confused they were during the test. It is nice to see that you are not the only one who just took the test, and many people had the same reaction. A humorous cherry on top of a long day of test-taking.

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