Why should students care about the PSAT?

Novalea Verno, Editor

The time is quickly approaching where a large number of students will be spending three hours testing their ability to remember the skills they learned years ago. The promise of cramped hands, neck pain and high-stress levels has deglamorized the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). The PSAT tests students who are thinking about attending college on their reading, writing and math skills. This test was created to help students prepare for the SAT- a huge step in getting students ready for higher education.

For many students, this pre-test isn’t so much a concern of theirs as much as it is an annoyance. The knowledge that the PSAT’s test scores won’t impact their chance of being accepted into college has resulted in a lack of motivation to try.

“The PSAT isn’t really a big concern of mine. I feel like there are more important things I’m preparing for,” says Jalene Dixon, a junior.

Is this the attitude students should have going into this test? The answer is no. The PSAT is important in its own way and will have an impact on test-takers in other ways.

The results of the PSAT can help students see what areas they need help in. The results will also help teachers see how they can best help each student.

“The data from the PSAT allows your school counselor to have a better conversation with you about your plans after high school which can include college or major selection,” says Tristan Zelinka, a counselor at Central in charge of PSAT testing.

The test also takes the place of Placement Testing for juniors and seniors considering Dual Enrollment. Getting to knock out two serious tests in one go is a huge advantage. Nobody wants to take more tests than they have to.

The PSAT also offers students a chance at getting a scholarship. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation looks over student’s scores to see who qualifies for the National Merit Scholarship program. The program offers students money for their freshman year in college if they score high on the PSAT. College is expensive and leaves many people in debt. Collecting scholarships as early as junior year can help get teens a headstart on avoiding debt.

“Probably the biggest reason to take it seriously is to use the Khan Academy afterward,” says Zelinka.

The results from the PSAT will link to Khan Academy. This free site will assign individualized test prep based on student’s scores. This will prove to be a very useful tool when studying for the SAT. If test-takers don’t try on the PSAT they may end up taking tests for subjects they don’t actually need help with.

Don’t let this test intimidate you. Try your best and go in with a positive attitude.

“Do yourself a favor, get a good night’s sleep, have a full breakfast, dress in layers so you can remain comfortable with the temperature of the room, and come ready to rock this test! I’d like to also remind students to bring their own #2 pencils and approved calculators,” advises Zelinka.

Good luck students!

An example of the PSAT scores showing students how “ready” they are for college.
Photo by kevinadotytutors.