Scholarships or Practice?

Inside the Minds of PSAT Takers


Photo by Jeinily Bencon

Nicole Llanes, Editor in Chief

   Sophomores and juniors walked through less-crowded halls on Wednesday morning, October 13th, with either confidence or worry running through their minds. As they walked to their designated classrooms and took their seats at their assigned desks, equations and tips ran through their minds. Finally, the booklet of questions and an answer sheet titled PSAT/NMSQT was handed to each student. Proctors read the rules and then began the timer: how the time was used and the answers chosen were solely up to the students now.

   All sophomores and any juniors who wished to participate took the PSAT last Wednesday morning. The PSAT is referred to as the Preliminary SAT, or NMSQT, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The PSAT both prepares students for the SAT, which is required by many colleges for admission, and, for juniors, identifies National Merit Scholars in which those who are chosen are awarded merit scholarships. The PSAT and SAT are both very similar in material as they both consist of the same sections: Math, Evidence-Based Reading, and Writing. Sophomore Natalie Tsung expressed her thoughts on her performance on the PSAT, “Personally, I think I did okay on the PSAT. I was able to complete the first reading section but I ran out of time for the grammar section, and had to guess on three of the questions. Although I didn’t do anything to prepare for the PSAT, the math section overall was pretty easy for me, except for 3-4 questions that I didn’t know and completely guessed on.”

   The PSAT took a lengthy portion of the school day, or exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes. Those not taking the test were in their 2nd period until lunch or 4th period. However, senior privilege was extended until 11am, so many seniors either came late or didn’t attend school at all. After the test, students either went to their 4th period class or A lunch, and either confidence or worry ran through the air. Students dwelled over their answers and wondered whether they did well or not, or whether they had prepared enough.

    Preparing for the PSAT required textbooks, flashcards, and many practice tests and problems. For many juniors, studying was important as they had one goal in mind: winning a National Merit scholarship. Junior Rasika Sriram stated, “I think everyone should try to do their best when doing things that can help them in the future, so I am aiming for the merit scholarship. Even if I don’t get the scholarship though, it’s a win-win situation. I got to practice for my SAT!” With the National Merit Scholarship, students are awarded funds ranging from $2000-8000, but generally are awarded a one-time scholarship of $2,500. Regardless of the prize money, as Rasika explained, the PSAT is an amazing opportunity for the future, both money and test-prep wise. 

   All questions about whether or not students’ studying paid off, or whether they’ll have to prepare a different way in the future, will be answered on either December 6 or 7, when PSAT/NMSQT scores will be released. As students at charter, there is no doubt every student did amazing on the test!