Get your #2 pencils ready: The newly redesigned PSAT arrives this October

Jun Cai, Staff Writer

If you’re currently a Seabury Hall student in grades 9-11, you will be taking the redesigned PSATs this fall on Wednesday, October 14.

The Preliminary Scholastic Assessment Test (PSAT), also known as the National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test (NMSQT), is meant to prepare early high school students for the SATs, which will be taken during either their junior or senior year. The PSAT determines the top students across the nation for the Merit Scholarship Competition.

Students across the nation will be taking this new PSAT for the first time, disregarding preparation they have received for previous standardized tests. Stephanie Walsh, Seabury Hall’s college counselor, strongly recommends students to study the gray PSAT prep packet (handed out during advisement) prior to testing.

Through an email, Walsh briefly summarized the PSATs for each grade level:
Freshmen: “The PSAT 8/9 is a standardized test that will test skills necessary for eighth and night grade students. The test serves as a good practice for the standardized tests in the future.”
Sophomores: “The PSAT 10 is a standardized test that will help prepare students to take the SAT in their junior year as it is the same test.”
Juniors: “Not only does this test indicate how a student will score on the SAT, but it also serves as the qualifying test for the National Merit and National Achievement scholarship programs.”
Freshmen-Juniors: “Students will receive a detailed score report in January outlining their individual strengths and weaknesses in each area.”

According to the College Board, the creators of the test, formatting changes have been made to the different sections, such as evidence-based reading and writing as well as math.

Some of the more anticipated changes include no penalties for wrong answers, and four multiple choice answers rather than five, increasing the ease of guessing. Supposedly, there will also be less “SAT vocabulary” and words more students are familiar with instead. The new test will be slightly longer, taking up to two hours and 45 minutes compared to last year’s two hours and 10 minutes.