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PSAT will not be offered during the school day

The new format forced the district to administer the exam on Saturday only
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PSATs will be given in a new format this year. The test will be administered Saturday, Oct. 14 at High School East.

Most Saturday mornings in the Shenendehowa High School East building are uneventful. Silence rings in the air as the absence of students and staff fill the hallways. 

However Saturday, Oct. 13, this Saturday, the silence will be short lived.  At 7:30am, the parking lot will begin to fill with students and staff ready to participate in the PSAT, a drastic change from the originally scheduled school day exam. 

Typically, the test would be administered during a school day in October but because of the College Board’s recent shift to an online PSAT, local high schools are forced to adapt if they want to continue hosting the exam. 

According to associate principal and testing coordinator Lucas LaBarre, district-wide meetings were held to discuss the best plan to make the transition to the online PSAT. 

Administrators say the change to weekend and online testing is a lot of work, but they are handling it. In order to host the PSAT, the college board has requirements such as ample space and an appropriate amount of test proctors. 

Historically, the training required for proctors was simply reading a pamphlet, but this year each proctor must be certified through the College Board. This means that replacing a proctor last-minute would be near impossible. 

Initially administrators were worried that students would not take the test if it wasn’t held during the school day. In years past, the district could provide the typical transportation since it was a school day, but during the weekend, this access to such transportation is nonexistent. However, the district is supporting student attendance in various ways including paying testing fees.  

Junior Reid Metler took the PSAT last year, but will not be attending this one. 

“For younger people who don’t [have a license] like tenth graders, then it’s inconvenient,” he said. 

Despite the changes, many students say they are still planning to take the exam. 

Rohana Dhruv, a busy 11th grader who values her weekends to unwind, is not a fan of this change. 

“I’m not into it, I use my weekends for the freetime I don’t have during the week, and this takes away from that time,” she said. She took the PSAT last year and will be attending this year’s PSAT with the goal of qualifying for the merit scholarship. 

Similarly, eleventh grader Alexis Schumer who is taking her first PSAT this year, also has a helpful goal in mind. Looking to perform well on the SATs later down the road, she sees the benefits of taking the PSATs but would still prefer last year’s test. 

“I would feel more enthusiastic if the test was during the week,” she said.

Testing coordinators recognize that this change decreases accessibility, but reminds students that Shenendehowa covers the testing costs in hopes to encourage attendance.

“We’re still trying to keep it available to as many as we can,” Labarre said.

Despite the fact that many students prefer the old format, Shenedehowa is expecting well over 500 students on October 14th.

The students in attendance are going to get a realistic SAT testing experience, qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, and be surrounded by other students who want to be there.

Despite all this, Shenendehowa realizes the increasing reality of test-optional schools, and the idea that many students don’t need a standardized test score to get them into the colleges they are applying to.

“ I don’t think it’s vital for every student, if you’re a student who has a lot of other attributes that make you a desirable student for universities, or especially if your university has an SAT optional application, then it becomes a personal decision,” Labarre said.

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