Mandatory PSAT adds stress on students

evanCastro Valley High School staff members have always wanted students to achieve great feats right from the time they set foot on campus. But is forcing students to take the Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, vital to our education and future success?

As I completed registration for my third year at CVHS, I was told that the entire junior class would take the PSAT, regardless if they actually wanted to take it. As I read the flyer stating the information about the mandatory test I’d be taking on Oct. 17, I questioned why this was even necessary for graduating high school and getting into college. Furthermore, what about the students who don’t plan to go to college?

The PSAT features three different sections: Math, Critical Reading, and Writing Skills. The three sections are scored on a scale of 20 to 80 points, and from there those points add up to a maximum score of 240. Now, a perfect score doesn’t sound too bad, and it does seem that we’ll earn some bragging rights, but just think of the time needed to study so we can get that score.

To top it all off, the PSAT won’t count towards your grades. It just creates work, wastes class time, and stresses students out, doing essentially everything the treacherous College Board strives to do.

Think of all the time and effort gone into the PSAT, and gone into telling students that they’re terrible at Algebra I or Geometry, subjects that they haven’t had review or preparation for. I also doubt English teachers are doing their best to help students with Critical Reading.

I remember last year, as a sophomore, I took the PSAT on a Saturday. I had chosen to be there, and I wasn’t wasting anyone’s time. The students and proctors present had voluntarily chosen to take part, when class time wasn’t going to be wasted. Sure, I bombed it because it was a test I’d never experienced, but I wasn’t cutting myself off from class time.

Anyone who took the PSAT or SAT knows how hard any tests College Board administers can be. Students are always pressured into doing well in anything relating to academics. Why add to our stress and force us to take this test, when really, a large number of us don’t need or want to?

The PSAT needs to be made optional and not mandatory. There is honestly no better solution. Students who do not want to take the PSAT should not be forced to. Plus, the workload, waste of class time, and stress the test will cause are all incentives to make it optional, and for the fraction of the junior population that would prefer taking it.

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