The 2020 PSAT’s – another layer of stress added?


Photographer: Ranad B.

A student at ASD studying for the SATs.

Khadija W., Reporter

The PSATs are a practice exam given to the high school students at ASD as an annual event in preparation for the SATs. Additionally, every year, the PSAT includes the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Assessment open to the American citizens of grade 11.  

Although we are still in the midst of the coronavirus global pandemic, the PSAT took place; however, it was situated much differently from previous years to keep everyone safe. The usual protocol would be for all students to arrive at the assigned room at 8 in the morning and complete their tests. Afterward, students would eat lunch and then join their advisory groups to complete fun physical activities in the afternoon until 3 pm.

This year, the test-taking was conducted in a different manner. The PSAT assessment itself had not changed from previous years. In the morning, from 8:00 until 12:00, grades 10 and 11 took the PSAT and left once they were complete. Then the grade 9 students would arrive at 12:15 and complete their PSAT before coming back home. For the 9th graders, and some 10th and 11th graders, this unique experience was the first time they had taken the PSAT.

After speaking with many Grade 10 and 11 students, none of the students felt their results were negatively impacted. In fact, H. Kamel (‘22) said she feels like “she did better” with her results this year.

Additionally, the physical safety of the students during testing times had been taken into account by the school, as all tables were distanced. A. Makhlouf (‘22) only felt his safety was at risk when waiting outside the testing area because “zero effort was taken to spread people out,” despite how the administration had planned and instructed for this. A. Heyres (‘23) felt that “ASD did enough to prevent most infections.”

For several students, attending the PSAT was their first experience back at school. When asked about their first experience back on campus, many liked their campus experience but were very confused about the one-way walking system in place. And the 9th graders, who had this as a first experience, described their experience as similar to what most past high school students faced when taking the PSAT, despite the pandemic. 

Although we are in the midst of a pandemic, the PSAT is a vital experience for grades 9, 10, and 11. Overall, most students felt their experience remained the same throughout the years and didn’t find any difference. Hopefully, the PSATs next year will continue back to normal, or if not, still be done in such a way that students can feel comfortable with.