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Posters filled with images of happy college students laughing and studying together line cork boards in the hallway. Notifications from their top colleges pack students’ mailboxes. Nearly every class period, tutorial, and evening holds another visit from a college representative informing students about their options. For many students, even when they aren’t attending these sessions, they’re scheduling countless hours they will set aside to study and stress over test scores: not regular test scores, like those you received in History and Biology, but standardized test scores.
The PSAT/NMSQT, SAT and the ACT are three forms of standardized tests administered by the College Board and ACT corporation. Universities vary on which test they prefer, but most accept either. The junior class took the PSAT on Oct. 14; while it may be called a practice test, many students have already prepared, and the test serves as a signal for others to start studying for the upcoming SAT. Unlike the PACT, the PSAT determines students’ eligibility for National Merit Scholarship. The stakes are high for many students when it comes to standardized testing, resulting in increased stress levels.
“I think at this day and age, colleges prioritize standardized testing too much when it comes to college admission, which stinks since standardized testing isn’t a good representation of a prospective student’s academic potential,” senior Madeeha Rizvi said.
Test anxiety is a fear of failing that some feel before or while taking an important examination, that may prevent a student from performing as well as they could. According to the American Test Anxieties Association, 16-20% of students suffer from high test anxiety, and another 18% suffer from moderately-high test anxiety, making it a common scholastic impairment. Test anxiety can lead to some students blanking out during tests, but is more commonly seen leading up to exams as stress and fear.
There are many ways to combat test anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, while being prepared for the test is important, staying relaxed, focused, and healthy will also be a great help.
“My advice to students [for whom] test taking isn’t a strength and a concern [is to] do enough tutoring, or take enough practice tests so that you know where you need to put your energy, and put it there. But don’t just assume that more is better,” Upper School Counselor Susanna Short said.