Notable Changes Made to PSAT Testing


Photo by: Bryce Dearden

The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) is now an all paid for test for all freshmen, sophomores and juniors. This year, the test was taken Wednesday, October 19, 2016.

All freshman, sophomore, and junior Cam High students took the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) on Wednesday, October 19. Due to the test administration, a minimum day was scheduled and seniors partook in activities in the gym for the day.

The test was optional to students of all grade levels in past years and was paid for by individuals taking the test, but this year it is entirely paid for by the OUHSD for all schools in the district. “[By having all students take the PSAT], they’re trying to encourage students to see their potential, to see that they could succeed,” said Mrs. Karen Chadwick, associate principal. “It shows indicators for if a student can succeed in an AP course. [The test results] also give us information on [students’] reading, writing, and mathematics skills.”

According to Chadwick, the district buying tests ahead of time for students may help a number of them reach their college of choice after high school, prepare for the SAT, find college scholarship opportunities, and pinpoint what subject matter they need to improve on.

The College Board, the association which makes the test, has developed several changes this year, in order to compensate for recent changes made to the SAT and the common core curriculum. “Some of the changes they made to make it more aligned with the SAT and more aligned to the common core,” said Chadwick. “They took out some of the points, not to make it easier, but just to focus on the areas they needed to focus on.”

Instead of a 2400 point format, the test is now based on a 1600 point format, in which each section has a potential score of 200 to 800 points. The one-fourth point penalty for incorrect and omitted answers has also been removed. “You could get a bunch right and then get some wrong, and it would take away from what you got right,” Chadwick said.

The sections have also been changed and now include evidence-based reading, writing/language, and math sections. The test has also been shortened by 45 minutes, now taking three hours.

Along with these changes, the previously mandatory essay section is now optional. Students did not take the essay section on the PSAT. Test layouts will differ between grades to account for what each level has learned so far.

“One of the goals for our district was that every student would have opportunities towards college and careers,” said Chadwick. “The district is looking at this as an opportunity for students to see their potential, so that students will get encouraged to do better than maybe they thought they would on a test like this. It would also encourage more students to take the SAT.”