Test takers reach for success

PSAT class brings potential National Merit Scholars


Every October, sophomores are required to take the PSAT. The PSAT is meant to be practice, but some students aren’t aware that their scores on the PSAT could place them in the school’s PSAT class. The PSAT class, which is offered in the fall is available to students who meet score cut-offs and are chosen to be in the class.

Students who receive an invitation to the PSAT class are in the range of the highest scoring test takers. However, every year there are different score cutoffs based on how the students did overall.

“We look at the total because it’s really designed toward, or partially designed toward, getting more National Merit semifinalists,” PSAT teacher Jeanette Rooks said. “To make that status, people have to be strong in all areas, so we look at the total score.”

The way National Merit determines scores weighs reading and writing separately, and math is a third component. Although the proportion is two-thirds verbal skills and one-third math skills, people still have to have strengths in all three to qualify.

“I think it does make sense how the students who scored the highest on the practice PSAT were invited to the PSAT class,” junior Amna Yasin said. “But at the same time, I think people who scored average on the practice test should get the same opportunities. Just because they didn’t do well on the practice PSAT doesn’t mean they don’t have that potential to gain national merit.”

However, students who do not make the PSAT class still have the option to receive preparation for the test in the open enrollment PSAT class that takes place during the spring semester.

“We do offer the second nine weeks and an open enrollment in the SAT prep class,” Rooks said. “People who didn’t make whatever our number was can still get the same preparation materials and if people aren’t within a certain range by the time they start junior year it’s gonna be hard for them to jump up enough to make National Merit, so that’s why the first nine weeks focuses on kids who are close and second nine weeks is for anybody and everybody.”

Overall, the PSAT class offers students preparation materials and strategies that can work toward improving their scores.

“The class has really helped me hone in on the skills that I am weakest on,” junior Maleeha Ahmad said. “I really appreciate the that my teachers drill me by giving me practice problems and passages. Repetition is the easiest way for me to learn.”

Whether students are in the class or not, Rooks said students can improve their scores based on how much effort and time they dedicate toward improving.

“First of all, no matter what the score that somebody comes in will not budge if people don’t put in the effort,” Rooks said. “Sometimes people come in and don’t make the leap that they can and other people make amazing leaps, so people who barely made the cut can jump way up to the top of the class simply because they take advantage of the time.”