PWCS Administers PSAT to All Freshmen This Year

The new freshman class are the first to take the PSAT during their freshman year at Hylton.

PWCS Administers PSAT to All Freshmen This Year

Students across Prince William County Schools (PWCS) are used to taking the PSAT during the fall of their sophomore year, but this was the first year PWCS administered the PSAT to freshmen at all high schools across the school division. Many of the high schools had already been offering the PSAT 8/9 to freshmen.

The PSAT is a practice exam for the SAT that can be given through eighth to eleventh grade. Though both the PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) test the same skills, they are different in two aspects: length and scoring.

The PSAT 10 and the PSAT/NMSQT are two hours and forty-five minutes long and are scored on a scale of 320-1520. In contrast, the PSAT 8/9 is two hours and twenty-five minutes and is scored on a scale of 240-1440.

Some freshmen saw taking the PSAT 8/9 as an opportunity to better understand the SAT and see what it will look like in their junior or senior year.

Freshman Bisma Lone said, “[It] Feels kind of weird but [the] rest of Prince William County does it. I’m trying to get a good grade so I don’t fail the next time”

Others were a little uneasy about taking the test so soon.

Freshman Gabriel Zamudio said, ” I think they are unnecessary for ninth-graders. The SAT is so far away and doing it [the PSAT] now wouldn’t make sense.”

Although there are mixed views about freshmen taking the PSAT, the experience does come with benefits for students. It helps students see where they are academically and gain a better understanding of what they need to improve on before they go to college.

The main distinction between the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 is that junior can potentially earn a National Merit Scholarship based on their PSAT NMSQT scores.

The National Merit Scholarship is an opportunity for students with the highest scores to receive recognition and potential scholarships. Students who score in the top 3-4 percent are named commended scholars. Those scoring in the top one percent, or 99th percentile, are named semifinalists. It usually requires a score of at least 1460 to make it into the final round and ultimately receive the scholarship.

Junior Jacqueline Mitchell said, “It (the National Merit Scholarship) is important because I don’t have money to pay for college, so it could be helpful.”

Junior Zoë Clark, there wasn’t much of a difference between taking the test junior year compared to sophomore year.

“It felt the same; I felt more prepared this year because last year I didn’t take it as seriously,” said Clark.

Students who took the PSAT on Oct. 16 can expect to receive their scores in December.