Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What is this PSAT Business?

Hey, everybody! This is Danielle Hernandez for School News. As many of you know, PSAT/NMSQT testing begins this week. All sophomores and juniors are eligible as long as they signed up by the due date! But what I'm sure you're wondering is, what in the name of all that is good and decent is the PSAT/NMSQT? Well, my friends, sit back, relax, and prepare to learn.

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program cosponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Basically, it's a test to get you pumped, primed, and prepared from the SAT. But, seeing as how we're in Iowa and therefore most local colleges accept ACT scores, that's not the important part of this test. No, no. The pertinent part is the "National Merit Scholarship Qualifying"-part. If you score high enough, and you're a junior, you can qualify for a chance for awesome scholarships. You may may be asking, so why do I care about that? Well, it's simple. Ev-erybody likes money! But another really cool part about this test is that it shows you your strengths and weaknesses and it doesn't really matter. Meaning, if you totally fail at one part of the test you can study it up and do really well on a test that really matters, like the ACT. Also, if you test well and provide the proper information, colleges will send you lots of information in the mail. Getting mail is proven to make you feel popular and boost your ego, so that's a definite plus!

The PSAT/NMSQT consists of three basic parts: reading, math, and writing. Speaking from personal experience, it's pretty much like any other standardized test you've ever taken. If you've taken the ITED (which of course you remember, you know- that week where you sat filling out bubbles for hours on end?- yeah, that one) it's similar to that but shorter.

Last year, the testing-center was located in the Auditorium, and heavy-sweatshirt-clad sophomores and juniors shivered their behinds off. Luckily, everyone will be testing in the High School Library this year. Yay heating! Huzzah! Amber Carl, an eleventh grader from HCHS, commented that her experience last year was "...pretty good, it's not a big deal. It didn't make me want to punch a baby after taking it, so that's always good! I'll see everybody there on test day!" However, David Siebert, another junior, added that it was "Cold, long, and unpleasant." David will be testing again this year (against his will). Mixed reviews I'm afraid.

Results will be back in just a few weeks. Like I said before, they'll show you your strengths and weaknesses. The results will also compare you with other college-bound students, so it'll be nice to know where exactly you stand. Remember, if you don't do as well as you hoped you would, just remember it doesn't really count for anything and pay attention to how to prepare for the real-big-time-tests. But I'm sure you'll do fine! Good luck everybody! I ask you, what is your opinion on the PSAT/NMSQT? If you've taken it before, what was the experience like? And if you have not or will not be taking it, what are the reasons behind your choice? I look forward to reading your comments! This has been Danielle Hernandez, reporting to you for School News.

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