Center Hill students prepare for PSAT

Abigail Penfield, Staff Writer

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On Oct. 11, Center Hill students, along with other students across the country, will be taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The scores from the PSAT will not affect college admission chances, but they can provide more money for college in the form of various scholarships, ranging from National Merit and National Achievement scholarships to ones offered by various companies and minority organizations.

A class geared toward improving PSAT test scores is taught by Michelle Jones, Meredith Smith and Judith Terry.

Terry teaches the math portion of the class. Juniors should take the PSAT test because it “enters the students into a nation-wide student search and scholarship competition,” she said. “Sophomores should take the test … to see if they qualify for Center Hill’s PSAT class and for a preview of the test before it counts in 11th grade. Invitation to the class is based on 10th grade PSAT scores. The qualifying score fluctuates each year.”

The class is offered the second semester of sophomore year and the first nine weeks of junior year. The second nine weeks it changes into an ACT prep class.

Although the PSAT students agree that the class is very challenging, future students can also expect to reap many benefits from the class.

“PSAT has helped me manage stress and schoolwork,” junior Emily Merz said, “It’s also helped me accept that it’s OK to not always make perfect grades.”

Students can also expect to be rewarded and have fun — potlucks are held throughout the year and a week-long summer camp at Center Hill combines learning and fun activities.

While the PSAT and ACT are both standardized tests that are timed, there are a few differences between the two that students taking the PSAT should be prepared for. The ACT is all multiple choice and has Reading, English, Science and Math sections and an optional Writing section. The PSAT has Reading and Writing sections and two Math section — one that is non-calculator and one that is calculator-optional. There are four grid-in questions on each Math section. Terry said that the PSAT Writing section covers more grammar rules than the ACT English section. On the ACT, the highest score someone can receive is a 36; on the PSAT, the highest score is a 1520. PSAT results are also not delivered until two months later, while ACT results are delivered about two weeks after the test has been administered.

To prepare for Oct. 11, students should eat a good breakfast the day of the test and get enough sleep the night before. Khan Academy, College Board and PrepScholar can help students practice for the upcoming test. A watch and a calculator allowed by College Board will also help students manage time throughout the test and answer math questions in the calculator-optional section.

To become a National Merit Semi-Finalist, students must score in the top 1% of their state. Murphy Hester, Jordan Riecke and Stephen Shol, three students from last year’s PSAT class, were named National Merit Semi-Finalists. They will take the SAT to qualify for National Merit Finalist standing, and in February they will find out if they are Finalists.

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Center Hill students prepare for PSAT