American High School Sophomores and Juniors Take On the PSAT
AJ De Las Alas
Sophomores and juniors of American High School took the new PSAT on October 14, 2015.
Ever since 1997, the PSAT has been administered with a consistent testing format. Recently, the College Board adjusted certain elements of the test to correspond to the new SAT that will be put into effect in March 2016.
According to the College Board website, the world needs more people who can solve problems, communicate clearly, and understand complex relationships. Continuing on, the SAT Suite of Assessments focuses on the skills and knowledge that will help today’s students meet that need.
The adjustments made to the SAT and PSAT delighted some students of American High.
“I like how the test has changed,” junior Spencer Slavazza said. “The questions seem more logical to me, and I like the way the questions are structured.”
The changes on the PSAT include an increase in the amount of reading and writing questions, the removal of penalty points for incorrect answers, and a different system for scoring. Formerly following a 240 point system, one can now earn a maximum score of 1600 on the test. Additionally, the PSAT now only has four answer choices per question.
“I really like how the test choices only go up to D, not E,” Slavazza said. “There’s a higher chance to get the right answer and avoid being tricked by the test makers.”
Even with these small benefits for students, the College Board changes did not inclusively bring about positive reactions.
“It may be difficult to transition from the old PSAT to the new one,” junior Nikita Ashok said. “We are just so used to the old format.”
Although the format changed, the amount of students who took the test this year was relatively equal to the amount who took the old PSAT last year.
“It’s really hard to tell which year the PSAT was more popular,” Mrs. Burch, American High School’s account clerk, said. “When we did the old format, we did it on Saturday, and we could tell how many juniors and sophomores signed up for the test, but this year, the district paid for all the sophomores. Just looking at the juniors who signed up, it was about the same as last year.”
The reason many juniors took the PSAT, regardless of the changes, was because of a common motive: the National Merit Scholarship Program. College Board gives a scholarship opportunity to students who score in the top 1% of the PSAT takers in their state.
“I think the NMSQT scholarship is very beneficial,” junior Neha Bhanoori says. “It gives high school students more opportunities to excel in the areas that they feel they can.”