PSAT: A Major Headache

PSAT: A Major Headache

Written by Emily Roper, Writer

While the PSAT certainly helps prepare students for the SAT and gives them a chance to earn the National Merit Scholarship it can be a major headache. Between the length and strict rules of the test, the tedious questions, the scores hardly anyone will pay attention to, and the scholarship that more than 90% of students won’t get the PSAT is more of a headache than anything.

The PSAT takes an extremely long amount of time, 3-4 hours! Not only is it long but there are many strict rules to go along with it. Among the list of rules you have to have an “approved calculator”, you can only eat or drink during the two short five minute breaks, you cannot touch your bags, and if you have to use the restroom during the test you have to wait for your turn to go in front of the entire gym so about a hundred-plus people know you have to relieve yourself! Part of what makes the PSAT so annoying is the conditions, sitting in an uncomfortable chair, using low quality pencils, in a smelly gym with an unstable temperature that is either way too cold or way too hot makes the test pretty uncomfortable. Not only are the testing conditions uncomfortable but the attention span of teenagers only lasts so long. With only two short five minute breaks it is easy to lose focus, only ten minutes out of four hours isn’t much time to replenish student’s attention spans.

About an hour alone on the test is devoted simply to listening to the rules and filling out a bunch of random information that just gives colleges statistics. It would be nice if that part of the test was optional because not everyone wants their religion, background, race, parent’s education, etc. to be another statistic. Additionally hardly anyone takes the contracts seriously, students aren’t supposed to talk about the test material and sign a contract saying so, yet without fail after the test the memes show up everywhere. The only truly important information that students fill out is their name, grade, and ID number and the only rules students actually follow are the basic ones that apply to all tests.  

Also as much as we would like to think that students will actually pay attention to their PSAT scores and meticulously study  looking at it realistically the majority of students will never study until there are only a couple weeks before they test. For Juniors the pressure to study probably won’t come until Senior year. For the Sophomores the PSAT is a practice for the practice and really how many people take test practice seriously? And another thing is that the taking the PSAT is a way to get out of class and while the majority of students are there because they actually want to study some people may just be there to be out of class.

Additionally while the National Merit Scholarship is a pretty nice reward for getting a 99.9% or higher on the PSAT very few if any people will score that high on the test. People probably won’t score high enough because the test is difficult and since it is a practice test not everyone takes it as seriously as they should to score that high. For the select few that do score high enough on the PSAT to get the scholarship it is still not that that helpful because if they are that smart then they don’t really need to practice. Also since most people know they won’t score 99.9% they won’t bother trying to get that high of a score.