Education

Countdown to College: What’s up with the PSAT?

PSAT results are in, sort of. High school juniors and a smattering of sophomores took the PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholar Qualifying Test) back in October, 2015.

College Board (www.collegeboard.com) promised that test results would be delivered in December allowing students time to strategize their 2016 test prep plans. So, it was a big disappointment when College Board announced the delay of the score delivery.

But, scores have just recently been sent to high school counselors and are also now available online for students. Paper score reports will be made available to counselors and students by the end of January.

The October, 2015 test administration of the PSAT/NMSQT marked the move from the “old” SAT to the “new” SAT which will officially debut in March, 2016. The old SAT was based on a 2400 scale with three, 800 point maximum sections; Math, Critical Reading and Writing. The new SAT will revert back to a 1600 scale, but will still have three sections; the Math with a scale of 200-800 and the Evidence-based Reading and the Writing Sections, each with separate scores, on a scale of 100 – 400.

While there have been a lot of changes at College Board, the best news is their new partnership with Khan Academy (www.khanacademy.org). Students will be able to link their PSAT scores directly to free testing materials from Khan. Many of the recent changes to the SAT make it more similar to the ACT, and so even if a student plans on taking the ACT, the test prep materials from Khan should still prove to be very helpful.

College Board’s partnership with Khan is an effort to level the playing field. Cynics might argue that this collaboration is really an effort on the part of College Board to try and regain lost market share. The ACT has overtaken SAT in recent years as the more popular standardized test.

David Coleman, President and CEO of College Board reflected “the perception and practice of costly test preparation is driving an atmosphere of inequality and unfairness in this country that College Board cannot tolerate.” The partnership’s objective is to make test prep more accessible to more people and remove the wealth advantage in the college admissions process.

Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, whose motto is “free world-class education for anyone, anywhere, forever” shared his thoughts on the collaboration. “We have a real serious shot of taking this thing called education, this thing that has always been the determinant between the haves and the have-nots; but it’s always been scarce and it’s always been expensive, and making it more like clean drinking water or shelter and making it just a fundamental human right.”

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: lee@collegeadmissionsstrategies.com; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com

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