Students reflect on taking the school-administered SAT and PSAT

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In late March, sophomores and juniors sat in the Townsend Harris gym to participate in the citywide SAT School Day. Offered by the College Board, the program allows schools to administer the PSAT and SAT during the school week at no cost to students.

All sophomores were required to take the PSAT, while juniors had the option to take the SAT. The PSAT occurred on March 18, and SAT testing was held the following Wednesday. 

In regards to the SAT exam, juniors expressed feelings of stress and uneasiness, as it is a college entrance exam. “I feel that taking the SAT is a very nerve-wracking process because we haven’t really had much time to study since our Sophomore year was cut in half,” said junior Jordan Jones. 

While the SAT is taken into consideration for many college admissions and applications, the PSAT gives students insight into different academic areas and topics they may need to improve. Some juniors found the PSAT beneficial in preparing them for the SAT, while sophomores are hopeful for similar results. 

“It will be helpful for me to familiarize myself with my academic strengths and weaknesses. With this information, I can get better before my junior year,” said sophomore Johnathaon Prout.

Sophomore Emily Kapika said that she thought the PSAT gave her an opportunity to determine how best to plan for the SAT. “My main goal is to go and do it to the best of my abilities and see how that goes so that I can figure out what I need to focus on for the SAT.” 

Sophomore Jacqueline Singhnani said taking the PSAT will “force [her] to finally get really serious about the [SATs].” 

Despite the SAT being more stressful than the PSAT for some, many juniors felt much more relaxed after completing the exam. 

Aris said, “I think that the SAT went well and was less stressful than I expected it to be.”

“After the SAT, I felt relieved because a [lot of] stress had been lifted,” Jordan said.

Although students were made aware of the SAT test date of March 23 in early December, they received an email from the school offering the option to switch to an alternative test date less than 24 hours before the test would begin. The email led to students expressing frustration on social media about the late notice of the new option and administrative communication in general.

Assistant Principal of World Languages and Instructional Support Services (ISS) Georgia Brandeis sent the email at 5:44 pm on March 22. It read, “We know many of you are preparing for tomorrow’s SAT exam… [but] we will be offering an alternate date for students who do not feel ready and wish to wait until April (13) to take the exam.”

Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee told The Classic that April 13 was a “makeup date that [had been] scheduled earlier in March.” She said that originally the College Board did not allow students to choose between March 23 and April 13, but administrators decided to call the College Board on Tuesday night and “and they said ‘you can offer the makeup to whoever.’” She said that they let students know about it when they got that confirmation. 

Many juniors took to social media to express confusion and frustration over the communication, with some saying having the choice of an alternate date given to them so late in the day added unnecessary stress to their preparation for the exam.

Junior Nailah Alladeen said it was “not fair that some students were studying for so long and they all of a sudden have this option.” 

Similarly, junior Imad Ahmed said, “many of us had already mentally prepared to take the SAT on the 23rd of March, and the decision was very difficult and [we] had a very short time to [make it].”

Junior Rasheed Been said that he felt as if the late announcement might’ve led to students questioning their knowledge and confidence “which of course can hinder [their] performance.” He also said that it was “difficult to decide whether the few weeks between the exams was worth it to prepare for the exam, or if it was best to get it over with.”

Junior Niharika Ohja said she thought that it was “neglectful of the school to inform us so late. It didn’t give me the time to consider the option.”

At least one other student had additional experiences with administrative communications received long after the end of the school day. 

Junior Dea Kita was planning on taking the SAT on Wednesday. At 10:23 p.m. on Tuesday, she received an email from Ms. Brandeis with an important update about a change in her status for the next day’s exam. The email then said “Would you like to postpone your exam? I recommend it!” However, earlier that day Dea had received an email that led her to believe that she was going to take the exam on Wednesday without issue. Dea ended up choosing to take the SAT in April instead of March. She said that she felt the alternative date’s late announcement was “surprising to most students” because they hadn’t “been given enough time to choose between the two options presented a day before the exam.” 

Ms. Brandeis did not respond to requests for comment. 

Recent trends have suggested the SAT might not be as important as it once was. Due to the pandemic, many colleges and universities, including many Ivy Leagues, will remain test optional for the 2023-2024 school year. Jacqueline said that the SAT still has value as “it gives a lot of students motivation and an end goal to work towards,  and even if colleges don’t require the test, getting a good SAT score is probably a sign of a student’s hard work.”

Junior Natalia Ramlogan said that although she agrees with taking away the compulsory aspect of the SAT, she also believes that if someone is “proud of [their] score, [they] can submit it to make [their] application look better.”