PSAT: Is It Nothing but a Score?


Joseph Abrahantes

The recent release of PSAT scores have left many students dissatisfied with both their performance and themselves.

As proctors distribute number two pencils, test booklets and bubble sheets, students begin what is regarded as one of the most influential exams of their academic careers. The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is used to measure a student’s knowledge of three topics: reading, writing and mathematics. The exam is regularly issued to high school students of all ages, from freshmen to juniors.

The test is spoken of highly due to the opportunities it can provide for students. Indeed, National Merit Scholarships are awarded to students who achieve a high score. Becoming a National Merit Scholar is a prestigious achievement that many colleges reward generously.

However, the PSAT is not of much importance as it is only to prepare students for the real test. It is designed to give students an idea of what to expect and help them become familiar with the format and question types that will be on the actual SAT. It does not have an impact on college admissions as it is not considered by most colleges. The PSAT is just a practice test and is not a measure of a student‘s academic ability.

My score was not particularly important to me. What I valued most was the insight I would receive which could aid me in the real exam,

— freshman Gianna Figueroa

All this said, the majority of students strive to perform their best. In preparation for these exams, many students take up tutoring, watch videos or study the PSAT prep book. Despite their efforts, these students may find that the scores they achieve are not up to their standards. This issue is caused by the education system’s influence on students.

The education system values letter grades and scores to such a high degree that it quickly rubs off on students. As a result, students begin to equate performance to their personal worth and intelligence. When one thinks of success, what is often envisioned is high marks and unrealistically perfect execution of assignments. In short, there has been a recent trend observed in students in which they let test scores define them.

“I have always separated my academics from my lifestyle. Knowing that my performance in school and my worth had no connection felt liberating,” freshman Rafael Hanono said.

The PSAT can be confusing and daunting to students who have not had the experience before. (Joseph Abrahantes)

While exams such as the PSAT are undoubtedly important to high school students, they should not be someone’s main character trait. The score you painted as unsatisfactory does not immediately put a stop to your goals. The fact of the matter is, everyone can achieve greatness, even with a score of 160 in the math section. You have the power to make improvements and evolve over time, something the numbers on CollegeBoard will never account for.

I believe tests are important tools for measuring a student‘s understanding of a certain subject, but they should not be the sole factor in defining a student‘s worth. Learning should be extended past just the classroom,” freshman Genesis Javier said. 

Students can have bad days for any number of reasons that can affect their test results. They may have had a bad night‘s sleep, been distracted by personal issues or simply not felt well on the day of the test. It is important to remember that a single test score could easily be an anomaly due to factors outside of the student‘s control. Therefore, if a student has a bad day, their test results may not accurately reflect their true level of knowledge and understanding. 

“It‘s natural to feel overwhelmed and discouraged sometimes, and it‘s important to remember that it‘s okay to not be okay. We all have different experiences and perspectives, and it‘s important to give ourselves the grace and compassion to process our emotions without judgment,” freshman Lauren Amador said.

Tests are only one indicator of intelligence and there are many other ways to measure a students potential. Students should focus on their individual strengths, such as creativity, teamwork, communication and problemsolving, all of which are valuable skills. They should strive to develop these skills throughout their education and make sure they are putting their best foot forward in the classroom. Additionally, they should take time to relax, recharge and enjoy activities they are passionate about. These activities can help students build confidence and a sense of selfworth, regardless of test scores.

Don‘t let your test scores define who you are. Instead, take the time to focus on your areas of strength and explore your interests. Develop an understanding of who you are and the value you bring to the world. With hard work, dedication, and selfawareness, you can reach your goals and be successful in life.