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What Do Students Really Think About the PSAT and SAT?

With the PSATs completed, students begin to think about the SATs and their futures

Miah Manning, Staff Writer

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It has been just over a week since the Sophomores and Juniors took the PSAT/NMSQT commencing the struggle of high school students today to get the best scores they can. The competition is stiff with nearly 3.5 million students taking the PSATs each year. With the SATs coming up in June, the pressure to ace the test is starting to build.

With the idea of standardized testing in the headlines, the debate of whether testing is an accurate representation of student knowledge is still up in the air. While some believe it gives an overview of what a student knows, others argue it depends mostly on preparation. Carrie Zhang (Senior) claims that the key to succeeding on tests like the PSAT and SAT is, “quick decision making and good guesses,” and believes these tests score test-taking ability over academic ability.

Contributing to this dilemma is the timed nature of the test. With the reading section in particular, students find it difficult to close read the selections given while still having time to answer all of the questions. Therefore, “one of the key skills you have to figure out is time management,” noted Peter Bosco (Senior).

But what value do these scores really have?

For the PSAT, these scores will give an estimate of how students will fair on the actual SAT. While this is their main purpose, the PSAT taken in Junior year enters the student into the National Merit Scholarship competition, in which the top 1% of students receive scholarship money.

So, the pressure to do well on not only the SAT, but also the PSAT can be overwhelming. This pressure on students depends on a variety of factors including “how much pressure your parents put on you, and how much pressure you put on yourself,” believes Ryan Branco (Junior). Students also recognize the importance of these scores for college applications. They determine what is realistic and what might not be when searching for the right college. While the PSAT scores may not be as scrutinized as SAT scores, they are still references of a student’s overall ability.

Despite the immense weight of the SAT and PSAT on students, Elliot DeGuilo (Junior) recognizes that, “overall consistency in grades through school,” should be focused on more that just one standardized test. So much time is taken out of high school students’ lives to prepare for one test, that is arguably not a reliable judgement of academic proficiency.

This demonstrates the difficult undertaking of educators and test makers to develop evaluations that showcase true student scholarship and individualism. Eliana Sussner (Sophomore) expresses hope, that “times are changing” and hopefully assessments of students’ intelligence will become more than just a number.

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What Do Students Really Think About the PSAT and SAT?