Students take PSATS in classrooms this year

Kate Baldwin

There had been finalists every year since 2003, but the number of finalists vary from year to year. For this 2009 school year, the numbers are very low — there are no National Merit Finalists from the senior class. To improve this, the school is changing the way standardized tests are being taken.

This year, juniors were able to look forward to taking the PSATs in the comfort of a classroom setting instead of the Great Hall as in years past. “We wanted students to be in a smaller setting,” said counselor Mrs. Amanda Anderson, “studies show better test scores if the students are taking the test in a more familiar setting.”

One of the main reasons for the switch from the Great Hall to the classrooms for test taking is that there were only seven commended scholars and no National Merit Finalists for the 2009 graduating class. “It could be that they were just not as good of test takers,” said Mrs. Amanda Anderson, “We are not expecting to cure the number of National Merit Finalists but hopefully over time we will see more.” The other reason was that “a room full of 175 students taking a test together could be distracting to some,” said Mrs. Anderson

To raise the number of National Merit Finalists, the school is not only changing the way the test is being taken but it is offering help with studying beforehand. On September 20 the school offered a workshop that gave strategies for students to use while taking the test, and a practice test of the PSAT was handed out to all students as well. Mrs. Amanda Anderson also hoped that the school would look at the scores of each area of the test and perhaps strengthen the curriculum for the areas that score lower. “We are not expecting to cure the number of National Merit Finalists but hopefully over time we will see more,” said Mrs. Amanda Anderson

Testing in the classrooms were received positively by students. “I liked that the test was done in the classrooms,” said junior Claire Mikulay, “I felt a little more relaxed while taking the test.”

The test being taken in the classrooms did not disrupt the school day for any of the other grades. The freshman were out of school at an event hosted by Link Crew, the sophomores were taking the PLAN test (also in classrooms), and the seniors had the day off.