Upcoming PSAT offers scholarship opportunity to juniors

Kira Sterling and Hallie Faust

As juniors at Palo Alto High School prepare to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test Wednesday morning, most underclassmen and seniors can look forward to getting a few extra hours of sleep.

The once-a-year exam offers high school juniors across the country the opportunity to prepare for their college entrance exams as well as qualify for merit-based college scholarships, according to the College Board website.

Unlike last year, when the test was administered to all Paly sophomores as well as juniors, this year only juniors will be required to take the test. The opportunity to test will be given to some sophomores, including those enrolled in the Advancement Via Individual Determination college readiness program. 

According to Assistant Principal Wendy Stratton, test coordinator for the PSAT/NMSQT, the Paly Administration feels that requiring sophomores to sit in on the exam will contribute to unnecessary stress.

“For many kids, even though it’s the PSAT, it’s a stressful experience,” Stratton said. “We know that we have a lot of students who are stressed out over grades already. Juniors are going to have to deal with the test, but they kind of anticipated it and know that junior year is going to be big — I just didn’t feel like sophomores need to go through that too.”

For sophomores who would like the additional exposure to standardized testing prior to their junior year, Stratton suggests alternative methods for preparation.

“There are opportunities for anyone to go on to the College Board website on their own and take a practice test,” Stratton said. “And it’s even lower stakes.”

In the future, Stratton said she will look to incorporate student input when deciding how to prepare sophomores for the exam without causing excessive stress.

After Wednesday’s PSAT, which for most test-takers will conclude around noon, all students will attend even classes for 55 minutes each in the afternoon, in which regular curriculum will be taught.