By Adam Silvernail
On Wednesday, Oct. 15, all the juniors at Ellicottville Central School took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, or the PSAT. The PSAT is a standardized test taken by every junior in the country that wishes to take it, though the timing is not always the same.
Within it, there is a reading section, an English language section, a math section without a calculator and a math section with a calculator. In the reading section, there are 47 questions and reading sections to go along with them, as well as 60 minutes to finish the section. The English section has 44 questions and 35 minutes to finish it.
The math without a calculator section has 17 questions and 25 minutes it finish. The math with a calculator section has 31 questions and 45 minutes to finish. There are also two five-minute breaks between the sections.
Those who do well enough at the PSAT become National Merit Scholars and are eligible for certain scholarships.
Before they took the PSAT, I asked several juniors if they were nervous about taking it.
Ryan DeKay responded, “No it’s…it’s just something that will gauge me in the future.” Which isn’t strictly true, as there is money on the line. But, if it helps calm his nerves, more power to him.
Caleb Jennings replied, “I probably should be but I’m not.” I’m not sure if he’s actually not worried about it or if it’s just bravado. I suppose we’ll see.
Jalee Evans said simply, “No.” Everybody seems rather confident in their abilities.
Taking it a step further, Noah Steinbroner said, “The PSAT doesn’t matter.” Rather bold of him, in my opinion. Will this flippant attitude result in a worse grade than he could have achieved? We’ll never know, but it’s an interesting question.
Students are forbidden to talk about any test material on the PSAT, though obviously some still do. In fact, if you’ve looked on the Internet recently, you will find a plethora of PSAT memes. I will certainly not be discussing anything on the PSAT in this article, though, I don’t think opinions fall under that category.
On Thursday, the day after the PSAT, I went back to each of the interviewees and asked them how they felt about how they did.
Ryan Dekay answered, “It was interesting.” Interesting: the polite way of not actually answering a question. So, I’m not actually sure what he thought about it.
Caleb’s answer was a bit more specific. “The English was very hard.” It seems he should have studied his semi-colons and verb agreements a bit more than he did.
Jalee’s response was on the other end of that spectrum: “It was easier than I expected. I felt very prepared.” Good for her. At least somebody thought they did good. I’m sure others also feel that way, but I didn’t ask them.
Noah replied, “I don’t care about the PSAT.” At least he’s consistent, I suppose.
Everybody that took the PSAT this year can expect their scores to be available sometime in December. Until then, all you can do is hope you did well and don’t worry about it. The SAT is the test that really matters.