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The Raider Review

The Raider Review

The Student News Site of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School

The Raider Review

The Raider Review

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A Closer Look at the Paper-To-Digital PSAT Transformation 

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The PSAT, which stands for Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, is a nearly three hours long practice test for the SAT. The SAT, which stands for the Scholastic Aptitude Test, is used by most colleges to help determine which students they want to accept into their institution. Both the SAT and PSAT are standardized tests which measure student’s performance in the subjects of math and reading/writing. The PSAT is typically for tenth and eleventh graders. Students who are in grades eighth through ninth have the ability to take the test, although they are not qualified for any scholarships. The PSAT may only be taken once annually, whereas the SAT may be taken multiple times. 

What are the differences?

Although both the virtual and on-paper PSAT helps prepare you for the SAT, there are some key differences. The most obvious and largest difference is that it is online, but this comes with its own side of  perks. Some of these perks include a timed break, an approved virtual calculator, and decreased test time while at the same time giving more time per question. In spite of everything, the on-paper PSAT also has its own benefits, including  familiarity with paper exams, being able to work/write on the actual PSAT and the lack of digital errors, such as internet issues and login errors. 

With both of them having their own advantages, it has spurred mixed feelings among students at STA. Most students have been accustomed to the paper example, but now with advancing technology, students must reacclimate to virtual exams. Gabriella Bering, a sophomore at STA and member of the women’s rowing team said, “Given the choice between the two, I would rather take the digital version of the PSAT due to its inclusion of the calculator and ability to increase or decrease in difficulty as you move forward.” Although there is a disconnect among students about the virtual and paper PSAT, it is important to remember that both will help you for the SAT, no matter which one you prefer.

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Importance of the PSAT

Although the PSAT is a preliminary test to the SAT, high scores can still have a large impact.  One of the main scholarships you can win is The National Merit Scholarship. The National Merit Scholarship, which is run by the National Merit Scholarship Program, awards students who perform exceptionally well on the PSAT, but are only eligible to those who become a finalist in the program. The PSAT is also another great way to get accommodated and feel more secure in testing conditions, and alleviate test-taking anxiety. As UCLA Center of Mental Health in Schools states: “Estimates are that between 40 and 60% of students have significant test anxiety that interferes with their performance up to their capability.” With the SAT being an important exam to apply to colleges, the PSAT allows the students to get a feel for how the exam will work and to get better accustomed to it.

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