PSAT offers preparation and merit

A typical PSAT test booklet. By Sam UL via Creative Commons
A typical PSAT test booklet. By Sam UL via Creative Commons

By Zoe Juanitas, Staff–

The PSAT, also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, will take place Saturday, Oct. 18 at Davis High.

According to college and career specialist Julie Clayton, the standardized test is a great way to practice for the SAT.

“You can take test questions online or take a class, but you’ll never really know what it feels like unless you actually go in, sit down and take the test,” Clayton said.

The format is very similar to the SAT, and tests students on the three basic academic areas: critical reading, math and writing. Each section is scored on a scale of 20-80 compared to the SAT’s 200-800.

Senior Gabriel Leal took the PSAT last year in hopes that taking the timed test would help him prepare for the SAT. He did, however, face an obstacle since the PSAT does not offer the usual 50 percent extra time for students with learning disabilities that all other College Board tests provide.

“For me the PSAT was actually harder [than the SAT] because I’m dyslexic,” Leal said.

Despite the time restraint, Leal’s score was high enough to qualify him for the National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP).

Only students who take the PSAT their junior year can qualify for either the NHRP or the National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSP).

Qualifying for the NMSP is a three-tier process beginning with choosing the National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists, roughly top one percent of students in the state.

“That’s what we’re in the process [of] now in fact. The picture of all the semi-finalists that were just chosen from the previous PSAT test that they took when they were juniors is coming out in the paper,” Clayton said.

The majority of this group become finalists, while only half go on to receive the National Merit Scholarship.

“Almost all Davis High School students [who are semi-finalists] become finalists but not all of them become scholarship recipients,” Clayton said.

Junior David Wang is taking the PSAT this year in preparation of the SAT test he’s scheduled to take shortly after.

“I hope to score high enough to get some award, but I’m not expecting too much out of myself,” Wang said.

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