By Elissa Koh
The PSAT, or preliminary SAT exam, will be held at Davis High on Saturday, October 15.
In addition to being practice for the real SAT, the PSAT is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, and students who not only have exceptionally high scores but also fit the participation requirements– are chosen and recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation as National Merit Scholars and have the ability to receive scholarships through the program.
According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, each year only about 15,000 students achieve Finalist level in the National Merit Program competition. However, only about half of the finalists are selected to acquire full recognition and financial assistance of a Merit Scholarship award.
With a scholarship and recognition on the line, juniors are desperate to score high on the exam, using multiple study methods in order to assure themselves that they are capable of attaining a high score.
Counselor Courtenay Tessler believes that most effective method to study for the PSAT is to participate in class or go through practice tests on the Khan Academy website.
“The best way to study is by doing the work in your classes because it’s very similar to what you do in classes. Now, College Board has now connected with Khan Academy so online there are practices for the SAT and PSAT so for free. So you can get online and you can actually do practice stuff through Khan Academy,” Tessler said. “You know, practice always helps.”
Tessler emphasizes the importance of taking the PSAT as a junior as it provides students with many benefits.
“It’s a practice test. And so it helps reduce test anxiety, it gives you an idea of what the actual SAT test will be like but you don’t need to do it until you’re a junior. But it’s becoming familiar with the test, what it is, what their asking and that reduces test anxiety,” Tessler explains.
Although junior Max Gasser plans to take the PSAT in order to try to get a scholarship and practice for the SAT, he plans to take the test without any preparation beforehand.
“I don’t really think I need to [study]. I did good last year [and] I didn’t study [then].”
On the other hand, junior Jenny Petkov has been studying specifically for the PSAT since the beginning of October, and for the SAT since last summer. Like Gasser, Petkov hopes to use this experience so that she is well-prepared for the SAT and is eligible for the National Merit Scholarship.
“It’s a good opportunity for sure. It is definitely stressful as well but overall, I’m really glad that we get the chance to take it,” Petkov said. “[The scholarship would] help immensely with paying for college and [would] give me a sense of accomplishment.”
Petkov has been studying on her own by taking practice tests at home. She also signed up to The Princeton Review SAT classes next year, she was sent several booklets from the organization on math and reading, as well as strategies for taking the SAT. In order to increase her score, Petkov has been using these booklets and focusing on improving her math skills.
“That subject has always been tough for me,” Petkov explained.
Sophomore Joanna Kim hopes to get an early start on the PSAT and is taking the exam this Saturday, although she is not eligible for the National Merit Scholarship as she is not a junior.
Although she has practiced using several written tests, Kim agrees with Tessler on the fact that Khan Academy is the best resource to use in reviewing for the PSAT.
“I like Khan Academy because not only does it offer tons of practice tests, it can [also] analyze your scores and make a personalized study plan,” Kim said.
Kim says that the website is not only great for preparing for the PSAT, but also for assisting her in school.
“Khan Academy also has really great videos on things like math or science that have helped me in my classes,” Kim said.
Kim recommends Khan Academy to anyone preparing for the PSAT.