Annual PSAT day fails to meet standards again

College Board tests our patience


Illustration by Ari Harvey

PSAT day horror stories occur throughout the day as College Board accumulates more and more power.

Ahh, PSAT day. We may have sharpened our No. 2 pencils to perfection the night before, but the school seems to have missed the point. 

It’s clear the district really tried to change things up this year. We can cite their brilliant idea to change the learning platform to Schoology and hand us chromebooks that range from kinda functional to ‘I-will-randomly-shut-down-during-your-math-test’, the latter coming from personal experience.

But to many, this year’s PSAT protocol and its rough execution was a new level of crazy.

Many sophomores and juniors didn’t even want to take the test, yet were forced to because there was no simple way to get out of it. Last year, students found it much easier to opt out of the PSAT because of COVID-19 and virtual learning. 

Not to insult the all-knowing, omnipotent College Board or use their name in vain, but why are sophomores and juniors who are not planning to take the SAT required to take the PSAT when the test is technically optional? Why is there so much emphasis on the PSAT and SAT when UCs continue to be test blind to these standardized tests? And why are sophomores required to take it when it’s an upperclassmen problem?

Oh yeah, it’s because of the College Board’s obsession with profiting off the hard work of students wanting to apply to college and their mission to make sure we all go broke in the process.   

Of course I say this with all due respect, College Board. (Please don’t revoke my test score!)

Since the school knew that the PSAT/SAT testing day was going to involve almost 100 percent of sophomores and juniors in 2021, one would think the school would be fully prepared to carry through with it, right? Wrong. 

Your personalized testing experience depended on which proctor you were assigned to and how good they were at keeping track of time, which didn’t work out great for everyone. 

Although all students taking the PSAT were instructed to arrive when the testing rooms opened at 7:55 a.m., start times for the test varied from class to class, with some classes not starting their first section up to an hour after everyone arrived.

Choose the best answer: Once the testing actually began, common themes included: a) phone alarms going off; b) tiny 5 minute breaks between the hours of testing; c) proctors running late on starting a section; d) general uncertainty and confusion; or e) all of the above.

If you answered E you’d be correct.                                                                                                                 

When testing finally did end, the coordination between all testing rooms was definitely worrisome. Students in classes that were released early got to chill and recover from their testing experience. But some classes were released at 11:45 or later than the scheduled end time at 11:30, giving students 10 minutes or less to eat their lunch after testing for three-plus hours. 

Just imagine the immense joy students felt when they got to attend three more classes instead of going home.

And as with all things College Board related, ordering a PSAT test for sophomores and juniors was not free for the district. It’s comforting to know the money was wisely spent on optional standardized tests instead of on something insignificant like, I don’t know, the quality of school lunches?

Anyways, I suppose we should all congratulate ourselves on making it through the warzone that is PSAT day. 

Favorite stories from the battlefield include students bubbling in ‘B’ for the rest of the questions in a section they know they won’t be able to finish and listening to a phone alarm go off for 5 minutes straight while trying to read a story about…well, nevermind. 

I’m not ready to fight the College Board over legal issues just yet. Just grab the nearest device and search PSAT memes or find a PSAT TikTok to know exactly what I’m talking about.

So hopefully when next year’s PSAT day rolls around, and our No. 2 pencils are all flawlessly pointy again, the school will be a bit sharper at planning this time honored high school tradition.