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Changes to the 2015 PSAT

There has been much talk about the College Board’s decision to revise the SAT, but few people know of the uncalled-for changes affecting the PSAT this year. On Wednesday, October 14, students across the country got to see those changes for the first time.

Two changes to the PSAT threw students off the most. The first of these was a shift in the focus of the test’s content. Both math sections required considerably more algebra 2 than in past years. This works against many Central students who opted not to double up, or simultaneously take geometry and algebra 2, during their sophomore year. Joanne Mathew (276) expresses her frustration with the test’s shift in content. “The inclusion of more algebra 2 questions in this year’s PSAT has been an act that has hurt more than it has helped. The Central students who chose not to double up had a harder time with the questions as many of the concepts were unfamiliar to them.” Because the PSAT occurs early in the academic year, eleventh graders affected by this change will not have had enough time to learn the amount of algebra 2 needed for the test. Students’ only consolation was the fact that this year’s test does not take off points for incorrect answers like it did in the past. Emma Dudnick (276) says, “It’s nice that they are trying to make the test more realistic by by not punishing you and only rewarding you. Even though College Board tried to make it a more accessible test it was was still looking for ways to trick you.”

The test’s second significant change was its scoring scale. The PSAT was previously scored out of a total of 240 points, with each section (reading, writing, and math) being scored out of a possible 80 points. This year the PSAT is scored out of 1520 points. Because the reading and writing sections are no longer scored separately, students will only receive two sectional scores, each out of a possible 760 points. This adds to the growing list of inconveniences because many students previously used their test results to estimate their possible SAT scores. The 240-point scale of past PSATs made calculating potential SAT scores simple, given the SAT’s 2400-point scale. Many are now confused as to how their PSAT scores may translate to the SAT.

Perhaps the larger question at play here is why College Board revised the test. Some think that the changes within the PSAT are financially motivated. Rachel Steinig (276) is one of such students. “The old test wasn’t making enough money. More people were taking the ACT so College Board hopes that by writing a challenging test some states will adopt it as a graduation requirement and they will also make more money that way.”

The students have spoken, and the verdict is clear: scrap the new PSAT and bring back the old one. The unfairness and inconveniences in the test outweigh the new perks. Maybe College Board’s decision to create a new PSAT was a self-fulfilling prophecy; they made changes because they wanted more people to take the test but instead they are driving test takers away.

Jana Pugsley (277)
News Editor

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