A Choice for Some, Forced for Others--The PSAT
By Dylan Edwards--Eagle Staff Writer
Fall is a favored season for many. The leaves change to warmer tones, temperatures start to come down, and students scramble to fill their college applications with records of their grades, club participation, and of course, SAT scores.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is a written test used to measure students’ knowledge through four timed sections: Reading, Writing and Language, No Calculator Math, and Calculator Math. The SAT was made to measure a student’s academic performance but outside of school, as if a student’s actual time earning grades in school isn’t of use.
Until recently, colleges required SAT scores as part of their admissions process. Because of COVID-19, colleges are slowly adjusting to make the SAT a non-deciding factor in admissions, since it was difficult to arrange any SAT tests when government regulations required everyone to stay at home. This effectively killed off demand for the SAT as part of a student’s resume for college admission since students can now find more value in furthering their extracurriculars and working harder in their classes for higher GPAs.
Here at FCHS though, a similar test is required of some high-achieving Eagles.
The PSAT is a practice version of the SAT, designed to help students prepare for SAT-style questions and timed tests. This year it was given on campus on Oct. 13. While optional for most, the test was required for AP English students.
The school holds the PSAT every year, which is great for those who need it, want to further their knowledge, or gain practice with these types of tests before they actually take the SAT for their college admission, but it is a lot more difficult for those who are required to take the PSAT. If these learners may not even need to take the SAT before applying to college, or choose to attend a community college where SATs are not required, why strain one's brain with the same test in a shorter, yet still stressful, version?
Some AP students have no choice in whether or not to take the PSAT. When they apply for the class, they automatically agree to take it along with the expected final exam, whether they know it or not. In the past, AP students would typically have to take the SATs as part of the college admissions process. However, this is not the case anymore, and requiring AP students to take the PSAT makes it difficult for those who don’t wish to take it or feel like they cannot perform well, even despite being given a study guide. Their only option for exemption is to show up to school late or skip that learning day altogether.
Since the importance of the SAT in the college application process is shrinking, AP students shouldn’t be forced to take the PSAT. It should instead be an encouraged choice, as the PSAT will only help certain colleges locate you. The PSAT requirement forces already-stressed students to devote time, energy, and mental resources to practice for a real test they will likely not even take. AP students already have more than enough difficulty with the workloads AP and college-level classes provide without adding an outdated and unneeded test on top of it.