PSAT Held at VHS

Priyunka Maheshwari, News Editor

   Standardized test prep is on the rise as students prepare for the PSAT. On Wednesday, October 13, Vandegrift freshman will take a released PSAT while sophomores and juniors will take the official PSAT. The PSAT begins at 8:45 AM and is free for Vandegrift students.

   “The best way students can prepare is to take practice tests,” Mrs. Spradling, Dean of Instruction at Vandegrift, said.

   “Students should try to take a few practice tests before the real thing so they have a better idea about the questions and can get used to it being timed,” Mrs. Spradling said.

   The PSAT can stress students out as they prepare to study. The PSAT, a national standardized test, can prepare students for the SAT as well as qualify them for national merit scholarships. Juniors are eligible for these scholarships, which are about $2,500 each.

   Sophomore’s scores are only seen by the student and their teachers so they can see how well they performed, but junior’s scores are sent to the College Board, a not-for-profit membership association that administers the PSAT and SAT. From there, students are chosen to be semifinalists and finalists based on their scores.

   To prepare students for the actual SAT, the PSAT includes the same sections as the SAT with the exception of the essay. While the SAT is scored on a 2400 scale, the PSAT is scored on a 240 scale. Students must adhere to the time limits set by the College Board on both the SAT and PSAT.

   To prevent cheating, a minimum distance between students seating is enforced. The computer grading the tests is also set to seek out cheats. For example, if an entire class gets a question wrong, the computer will pick up on this discrepancy. Students may not talk during the test, or have any electronics out, and calculators are permitted only on the math section.

   The PSAT is conducted in a serious atmosphere, and with that comes student anxiety. Many Vandegrift students have reported using large test prep books to increase their scores. Others have used test prep services offered by companies like Kaplan and Princeton Review. But expensive test prep may not always pay off.

   “Studies have shown that students that take expensive prep classes usually score the same as those that don’t,” Mrs. Spradling said. She recommends students taking practice tests and using the resources offered in the library and online.

   “Students just need to do their best and not be overwhelmed,” a PSAT administrator said.