Juniors anticipate redesigned PSAT

The+redesigned+PSAT%2FNMSQT+is+now+notably+longer+and+scored+on+a+1600+scale+rather+than+a+240+scale+%28and+for+the+SAT%2C+1600+instead+of+2400%29%2C+and+both+the+SAT+and+PSAT+now+have+two+instead+of+three+sections.

Diane Huang

The redesigned PSAT/NMSQT is now notably longer and scored on a 1600 scale rather than a 240 scale (and for the SAT, 1600 instead of 2400), and both the SAT and PSAT now have two instead of three sections.

Diane Huang, Online Editor-in-Chief

“How many of you have gone to [the College Board] to find out what [the redesigned test is] all about?” Silence. Heads turn as students try to find the one person who had bothered researching the PSAT. “Kinda sorta figured that would be the case,” Math Deparment Head Bill Boulger said, chuckling. For most students in the junior class, the PSAT hasn’t been on their radar until this Monday’s weekly class meeting when it was thrust upon them in the form of a vague informational booklet and a practice PSAT from the College Board.

Junior Oona Prozinski cited a busy schedule as to why she hasn’t started studying for the PSAT. “I would [prepare], but I’m busy with school and tennis and I procrastinate,” she said.

However, some students, like junior Muneil Rizvi, have taken classes in or outside of school in preparation for the PSAT and SAT.

As hard as it sounds, you can’t suddenly be good at the PSAT, you have to time manage. If you get something wrong, you have to find why it’s wrong, and that’s the most you can do.”

— Junior Muneil Rizvi

Rizvi described the shifting views on the significance of the standardized test and his experience with it in his summer class.

“There’s this 101 guy, and he was like ‘yeah, PSAT is a big thing”, I was like ‘yeah, it is’, but … he was like ‘yeah, and it like, defines you’, and I was like ‘but doesn’t it not define you?’ and he was like ‘yeah, some colleges are changing their mind about it and they’re like ‘oh standardized tests don’t define you’, but he said ‘it’s good for you to get a good score on it so you can get recognition’.”

Overall, Rizvi’s one piece of advice for students just starting to prepare for the test was that “as hard as it sounds, you can’t suddenly be good at the PSAT, you have to time manage. If you get something wrong, you have to find why it’s wrong, and that’s the most you can do.”

Erin Block, the SAT and ACT tutor at St. Paul Academy and Summit School, agrees with Rizvi and suggests that students should take the practice test at a minimum.

“Number one, definitely take that practice PSAT…and make sure you look at the correct answers and why they’re the correct answers,” Block said.

For the math section, Boulger encouraged students to review the data analysis topics.

“If I were you, I would look at [the Data Analysis] area because it’s not quite as familiar to you, or you haven’t done quite as much with it,” Boulger said.

Boulger also observed that the redesigned PSAT “[is] becoming more reading intensive, even in the math areas. You have to read some things very carefully.”

Never panic. If you can’t do a question, skip the question. What happens sometimes is that it snowballs…just treat every question as a new question and do the best you can.”

— SAT and ACT tutor, Erin Block

Block also noted that the PSAT is not like a typical test in school.

“I want to encourage you to think of two things: one thing that you find difficult when you start getting into standardized testing vs. regular testing in classrooms is that [with] regular testing in classrooms, your teachers have taught you what you need to know [and] if you were there you probably know it, and also you know exactly what to expect. Standardized testing is not exactly the same way. You can definitely prepare more or less, but no matter how much you prepare, there may be some things that still surprise you that you didn’t expect to be there.”

Despite likely uncertainty, Block told students to “Never panic. If you can’t do a question, skip the question. What happens sometimes is that it snowballs…just treat every question as a new question and do the best you can.”

Block will be available for questions during tutorial on Oct. 12, starting at 10:30 A.M. in College Counseling. The test itself will be administered for juniors on Oct. 14 at 8 A.M. at school.

Additional study materials endorsed by the College Board are available at the College Board’s website and on Khan Academy.