By: Faith Kisker –
As many of us are recovering from recently taking the PSAT’s, many 8th graders and freshmen were shocked weeks before to discover that yes, they had to take the PSAT this year.
The decision was made by the Diocese of Pittsburgh this year to eliminate the TerraNovas and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITED). This was decided because both forms of standardized tests, whether they are taken in grade school as TerraNovas or in freshman year as ITEDs, are less effective in measuring student achievement.
Instead, the grade school students in grades K-7 will continue with business as usual, simply no more TerraNovas. 8th graders will not be exempt from all testing. In order to prepare them better for their future, Seton LaSalle Junior/Senior Guidance Counselor Mrs. Judy Caves explains, “They will be taking PSAT 8/9. It’s good because it gives them the tools to get acclimated to and ready for the PSAT 10/11, and ultimately the SAT. ”
Mr. Tim Zugates, Director of Guidance agrees, voicing his support for the long-coming change saying, “Everything now is a version of the PSAT and it is better that way.”
More than 3 million students take one of the forms of the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test each year; whether it be the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, or PSAT/NMSQT. Junior scores will be eligible to receive the honor of Commended Student, Semifinalist and Finalist in the National Merit Scholarship.
Senior Elizabeth Farnan recently received the information back that she was recognized as a Commended Student. She says, “To me, the PSAT was simply a chance to see and prepare for what the new SAT would be like. I never expected to be recognized, it was honestly very surprising and humbling.”
Finalists that are chosen receive the prestigious title of National Merit Scholar based on scores and other parts of the application. The scholarship fund totals nearly 35 million dollars, but Finalists may also receive additional awards from individual universities because of this title. Scores will be received in January, and distinctions will come later.
The scores for sophomores can be used in conjunction with the College Board app called “College Board SAT Practice App.” Contrary to its title, it does offer assistance with specifically PSAT’s as well as SAT’s. It offers a place to see scores, improvement, stats to determine which areas are weaknesses, personalized Khan Academy practice prepared for those areas, and a function where students can scan a practice test of PSAT or SAT (SLS offers both- written copy as given out by Mr. Zugates or digital PDF) and it will automatically score it (disclaimer: you do have to take the whole test in order for this function to work).
Though they may hate it in October, incoming freshmen and current freshmen are lined up on a path to success with the standardized tests required by colleges and universities, as sophomores and juniors edge even closer to their futures with the results displaying both skills and areas of expertise. A successful combination of those and preparation can earn money-saving scholarships.