Juniors prepare for the PSAT

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






As first quarter of the 2018-2019 school year wrapped up, many juniors at SPA took on another challenge on top of their already overwhelming schoolwork: the PSAT.

The Preliminary Scholarship Aptitude Test, or PSAT for short, is an annual national merit scholarship test. This year, it happened to be on Oct. 13. As the clock ticked closer and closer to 8 a.m, juniors started to file into the building one by one and settle down for the three and a half hour long test. Some looked nervous while others confident. Ten minutes into instructions, Pia Schultz rushed into the testing room, late. “There was a spot left between these two kids I had never seen before. And I was like sorry sorry hi, sorry sorry.  And Mrs.Hill, a college counselor, looked at me.”

The PSAT is a big deal for these juniors. Not only is it an excellent chance to practice for the SAT, which plays a crucial role in college applications, but it is also a chance for these talented 11th graders to earn merit scholarships of $2500, granted to them by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, or to be acknowledged as an outstanding student by scoring more than 1500 points and making the semi-finals. Lori Li, a member of the class of 2020, said, “I was feeling a bit nervous, but while I was taking it, I kind of had to ignore that so I could focus well and have a chance at earning a scholarship.” However, not everyone strives to earn a national merit scholarship. Like Schultz said, “I know for sure I’m not gonna make a national merit scholar because, for every 300 PSAT takers, one person is a national merit scholar. Looking at my odds, it’s not gonna happen.”

The PSAT, similar to the SAT, has a total of 1,600 points and is split into four sections: reading, writing, math without a calculator, and math with a calculator. Reading and writing are worth 800 points and math makes up the other 800 points. Typically, between each section, a five minute break is given to the students for stretching and relaxing. For Li, the PSAT content wasn’t harder than a normal test. In Fact, Li said, “The math section is mostly consisted of basic math like Algebra and Geometry. There’s only a few questions beyond that.” What made this test so hard was that it was more stressful than usual. Li said, “For the PSAT, you only get one chance to take it, which is your Junior year. Unlike the SAT, you can take it as many times as you want.” As for Schultz, who was not having a smooth day, had a different experience from Li. Schultz said, “And then guess what? My calculator, which I had purposely charged the night before, didn’t turn on at all. And so I freaked out. But thankfully, Anjali, who’s like the most prepared person you’ll ever meet in your life, had an extra one and gave it to me, so it was all good.”

And then guess what? My calculator, which I had purposely charged the night before, didn’t turn on at all. And so I freaked out. But thankfully, Anjali, who’s like the most prepared person you’ll ever meet in your life, had an extra one and gave it to me, so it was all good.”

— Pia Schultz

One of the key factors that will determine how well you do on the PSAT is preparations. Study preparations and material preparations. Both are equally as important. While a portion of students like Schultz, don’t prepare for the PSAT and chose to take it just to get a taste of the upcoming SAT, another portion of students like Li decided to pull some time out from their already overflowing load of work to prepare for the PSAT in an attempt to make it to the Semi-Finals or earn a national merit scholarship. As early as this summer, Li began to study for the PSAT by going to SAT and ACT classes for about two months. She also enrolled in a PSAT class that SPA provided for juniors in hopes of their success. Li said, “A lot of effort goes into preparing for the PSAT, but even if you decide not to study, it’s still like best if you take it, to know what the other actual SAT test are like.”

And to all the future PSAT takers, here are some pieces of advice from Li and Schultz: Li said, “If you are really striving to make the Semi-Finals or earning a National Merit, give yourself enough time, I’d say one or two months at least and like consistent studying.” And on the other hand, if you’re not striving to be a national merit scholar like Schultz, “Don’t study for it. Because then you’ll know what you’re already good at and what you need to work on. So then you won’t spend a lot of time studying things you’re already good at and focus on your weaker areas.” But no matter what you decide to strive for in the PSAT. The decision is yours, and there is no right or wrong. All you have to do is try your best, be on time, and most importantly, remember to charge your calculators.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email