Sophomores and juniors begin PSAT testing

Questions such as these are typical on the PSAT and SAT. Photo courtesy of

Christine Mayuga, Online Staff

Sharpening their #2 pencils and cramming in those last-minute vocabulary words, Jefferson sophomores and juniors prepared to take the PSAT. Pre-test strategies for students varied across the board, but on Oct. 16, all of the class of 2015 and 2016 came together on the half-day to take the standardized test.

“I subscribe to those SAT questions of the day and took the practice test. But the night before, I just went to bed early,” junior Jack Morris said.

The Preliminary SAT, more commonly known as the PSAT, is administrated by CollegeBoard to provide firsthand practice for the SAT, as well as qualify juniors for National Merit scholarships. The PSAT contains the usual critical reading, math and writing sections but as opposed to the regular SAT, it is much more condensed and only scored out of 240, rather than 2400, points.

Often, the question comes up as to how well the PSAT prepares students for the SAT or how representative PSAT scores are of SAT scores. Due to the shorter testing time, some students feel that since there are less sections, there is a much smaller margin for error.

“Due to the fact that the PSAT tests more general skills, while the SAT subject tests evaluate actual knowledge, I trusted my intuition more on the PSAT,” junior Alec Jessar said. “For example, in the last grammar section, I trusted my ear to make the necessary corrections to the sentences. I was also more relaxed during the test, knowing that struggling on one question did not mean that I would struggle on the ensuing questions.”

For sophomores, the PSAT is relatively stress-free, mainly serving just as a practice for the SAT and other standardized tests, usually taken during students’ junior and senior years. PSAT results come back within months of the test’s administration, however National merit results aren’t announced for juniors until September of their senior year.

“I took the SAT in seventh grade,” sophomore Jeewoo Kim said. “I definitely studied less for this though. The night before I just skimmed through a couple vocabulary words. Next year it will really count.”

For juniors, however, there are many incentives for scoring well on the PSAT, including National Merit Scholarship opportunities.

“Generally, the 11th graders score higher than 10th graders,” Administrator and PSAT Coordinator Adam Wong said.

Students have traditionally taken the PSAT on a half-day during the middle of the week, but with enough interest, the administrators may offer a possible alternative.

“Maybe we could look into if students would like to take the test as an entire school on a Saturday morning. That way Wednesday could be a telelearn day,” Wong said.