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Scholarly students conquer PSAT

Students prepare for the SAT by taking the PSAT. Photo by Maya Bussinger

The PSAT took place early on the chilly morning of January 26, many Bruins hopeful the practice would help improve their scores on the SAT. 

The PSAT is a practice exam for the SAT. Students that are eligible to take the test include all sophomores and juniors. The PSAT is also known by the name NMSQT, which is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Students who score very highly on the exam may be eligible to win scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). However, only juniors are able to win the scholarship, giving sophomores something to look forward to if they decide to take the PSAT next year. 

Since the PSAT is a practice SAT, all the rules and testing conditions were mimicked as closely as possible. Student Counselor Mary Buhr detailed many of the procedures.

“Students needed to bring two sharpened #2 pencils with erasers [and] a calculator for the math test (must not make noise and cannot be your phone or watch or any other device besides a calculator),” said Buhr. “Students were welcome to bring a snack for the break, but must leave it in their backpack (all backpacks will be lined up on the side of the MPR.) Cell Phones were not allowed.”

Due to the pandemic, Buhr explained additional rules to prevent students’ exposure to COVID-19. 

“We had desks and chairs set up 6 feet apart; we planned to open doors several times throughout the test in an attempt to circulate air; we walked outside for a bit during our break. Students had to wear a mask at all times during the test.”

Because the test is part of a college board exam, students couldn’t reveal what any of the questions were, but could say what they thought of the test.

Junior Aden Mattson shared his mixed view.

The process was long and boring, but I feel like it was comfortable at least,” he said. “They also provided snacks which is great.” 

Appreciating pandemic procedures and agreeing in part with A. Mattson, Junior Sarah Holden gave her opinion.

“I liked that we had a long break and we were properly spaced out which was nice,” she said. “It was warm inside too.” 

Sophomore Maddie Mattson felt relieved about the proceedings of the test.

“Overall, the PSAT really was a lot less stressful than I would’ve imagined,” she said. “I was focused enough on the test that time flew by quickly and then we still got nice breaks in between sections and even snacks if we wanted. The only struggle I found was just getting bored once I had finished and fidgeting quietly nonstop, but most sections I finished with only a few minutes left anyway so it wasn’t too bad.”

Buhr left with these words of advice for future PSAT test takers:

Please review your Student Guide. If nothing else, please look at the section regarding Student-Produced Response Math Questions (p. 31.) This section of the math test is not multiple choice – you will have to find the answer and grid it yourself. If you haven’t already looked at how to do this in the Student Guide, you may wind up wasting valuable time during the test,” said Buhr.


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Scholarly students conquer PSAT