The Pretty Speedily Approaching Test

The PSAT, the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, will be held October 11, 2017 for sophomores and juniors

Cassidy Waigand, Staff Writer

Using a variety of techniques, sophomores and juniors are beginning to prepare for the October 11, 2017 PSAT. For the sophomores taking the test, it will more than likely be a new experience. Even some juniors are taking the PSAT for the first time this year. This being said, juniors who have previously taken the PSAT, as well as the counselors, have some tips for the first-time test takers.

One way that Heather Schwalbe, a counselor at Fox, suggested to prepare for the test is by using resources that are readily available. “I would say take as many practice tests as possible from the study packet. College Board and Kahn Academy also have study test questions,” she said. Besides this, Schwalbe said students should not “cram the night before. It’s good to be familiar with the format of the test.”

Another way students taking the test for the first time can prepare is by following the examples of those who have taken it before. “I’ve already started to fill the test booklet out. So, I’ll look through it again and go over test-taking skills,” junior Mori Hodel said. Even some of the students who have not taken the test before are following this plan, “I will look through the packet and do the practice tests,” Sara Guhl, junior, said. Sophomore Carly Wright also said that she plans to “study every once in awhile.”

I’m glad I took it. I feel like it helped me understand where I’m at and what I could improve.”

— Mori Hodel

Even though the test date is quickly approaching, however, many of the students seem unworried about the PSAT. “I’m not that nervous. I feel like it’s a practice for the ACT. I hope I do good. If not, I’d be sad,” Hodel said. Much like Hodel, Guhl said that “It’s kind of nerve-wracking to take a timed test, but I’m not too worried about the outcome of it.” Much like the two girls, Jakob McMillin, sophomore, seemed confident when he said, “I’m not really nervous.” Unlike the others, however, Wright seemed slightly more nervous about, “everything. The math portion in specific.

Some of the most important tips, however, relate to during the test. Hodel suggested that students, “just try to answer all the questions logically.” Schwalbe agreed. “If students don’t know the answer, they can skip it and come back. Don’t spend too much time on tough questions. Come back to them at the end. The bottom line is leave nothing blank,” Schwalbe said. “Even if you’re guessing you have a twenty-five percent chance of getting the right answer.”

Besides making sure all the questions are answered, Schwalbe stressed the importance of coming prepared and actively managing your time throughout the test. She suggested bringing a watch, a graphing calculator, and a pencil. Students should be aware that mechanical pencils are not allowed.

Those who have taken the test before, as well as the school’s counselors, agree that the studying and possible stress pay off. “It’s important to take as many standardized tests as possible during high school to get feedback in the areas of math, reading, and writing for before the SAT, and the ACT, which all juniors will take in February,” Schwalbe said.

While she did add that PSAT scores will not be viewed by colleges, the test is still very important. “It’s the only test that will qualify students to be a National Merit Scholar,” Schwalbe said, “which will award 10,000 students with scholarships nationwide.” As for Hodel, she recalled taking the PSAT her sophomore year. “I thought it went pretty good. I’m glad I took it. I feel like it helped me understand where I’m at and what I could improve,” she said.

Overall, the importance of the PSAT seems to be agreed upon, and because of that, students and counselors alike hope that their tips will be beneficial to the students taking the test for the first time this year.