The PSAT should be optional for juniors

The PSAT should be optional for juniors

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Ollie Najar, Staff Writer

On Oct. 14, juniors spent half a school day taking one exam, the PSAT. According to the Princeton Review, 3.4 million high school students take the exam every year in the United States, however many are questioning whether juniors, for the first time, should be required to take the test at Rochester High School.

The Preliminary SAT can be easily understood by the name, it is a similarly structured exam to the SAT, only shorter due to the lack of an essay section, and less challenging math due to the fact that the test-takers are younger.

Students don’t typically study for the PSAT because people believe it is not important because the score is not recorded for college applications. Many find it unimportant and time-consuming, compared to taking the actual SAT and ACT.

However, others find the PSAT necessary for all students because it not only gives the students experience taking a test like the SAT, but because the score can be a factor in a student obtaining a National Merit Scholarship. Essentially, if a student receives a good score on the PSAT, the College Board will award the student and select universities will offer scholarships for students with awards. Because taking the PSAT has been optional and was done on a Saturday, very few juniors took the test in the past, resulting in fewer National Merit Scholars than other neighboring districts.

One can see that the PSAT can be helpful, but is it should not be required for all juniors take. Making the exam optional would make it only required for those who see the benefit of taking it, and all others could refrain from the exam. Rochester is making a change that has sparked divided opinions. Students have so much work as is; spending a half a day taking a test that may amount to nothing is frustrating and inefficient. However, if the test were not required, many students might not jump on the opportunity of the scholarships and the test taking skills that the PSAT supply.

Many teachers are in support of the PSAT being required because they believe that it is important to familiarize the students with the test and become more comfortable with standardized exams.
Overall, the change in the Rochester district leading to the requirement of the PSAT by all students to graduate has sparked controversy and debate across the city. In a school system with more and more standardized tests is the PSAT necessary or not? The question fires conflict, but conflict leads to compromise.