Ups and Downs of the PSAT


Graphic courtesy of Frannie O’Shea ’21

Frannie O'Shea '21, Staff Writer

According to counselor Beth Walsh, the PSAT is amazing preparation for the SAT because it is the same format for both of the standardized tests, which is a huge pro.

“They have it divided up now so 8th and 9th graders take one version and 10th graders take one version and 11th graders take a different version,” said Walsh. “So, when you are not taking that 11th grade test it’s not necessarily all the material that a student would see in the SAT, because a 9th grader hasn’t addressed all that material yet. It’s essentially taking the SAT, so it’s a great way to get a sense of how would I do if this was the actual test.”

The PSAT is a really great way to get feedback and results from the College Board and they are great to have when taking the actual SAT, according to English teacher and English Department Chair Danielle Peck.

“I  think it’s really helpful that students will be able to get their results back and the College Board is really good now a days at taking students answers and synthesizing that into information that will be very helpful to students when they are studying explicitly for the PSAT, the next time they take it, or the NMSQT if they are interested in becoming a National Merit Scholar or eventually in the SAT when they are a junior,” Peck said.

Student  Natalie Gormely ‘21, who has taken the PSAT 3 times, said she thinks (taking the PSAT) is a good way to prepare for the SAT.

“I think it is because it teaches us about the format of the real SAT and prepares us to know what we are in for,” Gormely ‘21 said.

According to Gormely, some cons are that some of the material is unfamiliar and that can become really difficult when taking the test.

“I would say it’s just hard to sit there for 3 hours and just take a standardized test,” Gormely said. “It can also be really hard to know all of the materials on there because we haven’t learned all of the material so it can be challenging.”

According to Peck, a challenging thing is stress and anxiety, along with the fact that two days are taken out of the year that is not in the classroom learning.

“I think it’s a lot of pressure on the students. I sometimes feel that we take a lot of what could be instructional time, for students to prepare for the exam,” Peck said. “It’s also two days out of the year, because we do one in the fall and one in the spring, but in addition to that juniors, for example, spend time filling out the bubbling form or whatever and I sometimes feel like that time, I wish I had more time in the classroom.”

According to Walsh, stress and anxiety from the PSAT can become weakening for students.

“There’s some people that will feel a lot of anxiety, which is uncomfortable. Sometimes having that anxiety helps you know how to address that in the future but it still produces anxiety sometimes and that’s uncomfortable,” Walsh said. “Sometimes that anxiety can be quite a lot and then becomes debilitating. So, in terms of the emotional aspect of it sometimes that’s a down side.”

The PSAT is important and will help later on and will give a lot of feedback, but can become very stressful. According to Peck, the test does not define who you are as a student.

“I would stress to students that ultimately, what you get on the SAT or PSAT doesn’t really say anything about who you are as a person,” Peck said.  “I can learn so much about you as a teacher by you showing me your skills in different ways in the classroom and colleges can see that as well.”