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Everything You Need to Know about the PSAT

Ferguson’s PSAT is right around the corner! Available to Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors, the PSAT is a preparatory exam that imitates the SAT they must take before graduating. No matter your grade level, it is never too early to sign up!

Although freshmen are still adapting to the chaos of high school, the PSAT provides them with a head start in preparing for future assessments and allows them a chance to seek help in underperforming areas. However, they must complete an online payment of $16 in order to receive a study guide and take the test.

Sophomores, who are already accustomed to their school life, are automatically registered to take the PSAT. Ferguson urges them to take this exam seriously, as it is the last year to prepare for the process of registering for scholarships.

Juniors too are expected to put some major sweat into these PSATs. This is the true year that counts for this test, as major organizations monitor test results to determine students’ eligibility for certain scholarships.

All PSATs introduce most of the material that the SAT will cover, making it an excellent way to track progress. This will include a calculator-based Math session, another without calculators, Evidence-Based Writing, and reading. These subjects are divided into four segments that range from 25 minutes to an hour long each.

The PSAT also provides a great advantage for everyone when it comes to identifying weak academic areas. Once the student receives feedback on their performance, they have the opportunity to strengthen specific topics based on their data. The College Board in charge of monitoring the exam works closely with Khan Academy, a free tutoring website with endless learning tools, to provide students with personalized lessons that target these deficiencies.

“I struggled with math during the PSAT and if I would’ve known about Khan Academy, which I learned about this year, I would have been more prepared”, says Valerie Herrera, an eleventh grader.

Besides providing suggestions to improve a certain academic area, the PSAT results allow administrators to determine which students have “AP Potential.” Based on their scores, Ferguson decides which Advanced Placement classes would best suit each student. Later into the year, they invite those students’ parents to a “Potential Night” to discuss their opportunities.

The most common that recognize potential scholars are “Bright Futures” and the “National Merit Scholarship.”  However, this distinction is awarded to students who score in the 98th percentile or perform higher than about 98% of juniors nation-wide. For most, this opportunity does not even come at a cost, as those with free and reduced lunch are waived from the testing fee!

One of our assistant principals, Ms. Rosalyn Rodriguez, advises students not to be discouraged by the high stakes. No matter what grade you are in, she says that taking the PSAT is a great way to “gauge how prepared you are in moving forward, to take eventually those college-level courses.” Ms. Rodriguez admits that she did not take the PSAT in high school, but instead took the SAT and ACT various times. However, she was always “driven” in school, and would have definitely taken it if given the opportunity.

At the end of the day, the objective of the PSAT is to prepare all student to enter college as capable young adults. For most of us, that starts with these exams.

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