By Olivia DeCrane
The morning of October 14 will be a busy one for all students of Harrison High School.
All freshmen will go through the annual Preparing for College and Careers (PCC) workshop, sophomores and juniors will take the PSAT/NMSQT, and seniors will take a career test.
Some juniors will also be taking the ACCUPLACER instead of the PSAT/NMSQT.
Juniors will be notified about which test to take.
In previous years, sophomores and juniors would take the PSAT/NMSQT on an October morning.
By taking the PSAT/NMSQT, students could get a feel for what taking the SAT is like and, if they are juniors, could possibly qualify for a National Merit scholarship or award.
The test also gives a score that counselors can use to determine dual credit, amongst other things.
Previously, the PSAT/NMSQT was free for all sophomores, but not juniors.
That has now changed, thanks to state funding.
The test will now be free for all sophomores and juniors, which should encourage all sophomores and juniors to take the test.
Now that the PSAT/NMSQT is free for everyone, this scheduled career day is possible.
So what will the freshmen and seniors do on October 14?
“When you have half the school testing, it doesn’t make sense to have the other half in classes. The half that is testing misses out on classes and then the teachers have to reteach,” says List, an assistant principal.
For freshmen, the PCC workshop that used to happen once a semester (since it is a semester long class) will now be scheduled on the same day as the PSAT/NMSQT.
Now, freshmen will not have to be pulled out of class to go through the career workshop.
That leaves the seniors.
“One of the things our seniors have told us over the years is that even though they’re seniors and even though they are in their last year of high school, many of them do not know what to do career-wise,” says List.
“We were looking for a tool that would be helpful for them to identify their strengths and weaknesses, their interests, and some occupations that fit with their personalities.”
Seniors will take a test called ASVAB, or the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.
The test will give seniors a list of occupations that go well with their interests.
ASVAB was previously only used for military careers, but now anyone can take the test.
“Everybody should have something to do that morning,” said List.
Lately, standardized testing has received a lot of negative attention.
Some distinguished colleges are no longer requiring that students submit their SAT or ACT scores.
With a day totally dedicated to standardized testing, there could be some backlash.
“Standardized testing is not fun,” List said. “[But] it’s really good at predicting your possible success at a college or university. There are still so many institutions that look at these scores. If we got to the point that all of our local colleges said they don’t look at these scores, then the PSAT would be less important.”
Standardized tests are everywhere. There’s ISTEP, SAT, ACT, MCAT, and LSAT, only to name a few.
Despite the growing backlash towards standardized testing, List does not think we will see much of a change.
“My hope is we would see a decrease in the number of standardized tests that students are required to take,” List said. “If we could get one standardized test that did it all, that would be great. On the other hand, that makes that a very high-stakes test.”
A student’s PSAT score will not be on his or her college application, and he or she can retake any standardized test, so there are second chances for testing success.
If students have questions about October 14, they can contact their counselor.