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Dublin Partners in Education Brings PSAT Prep Training to Dublin High School

October 19, 2018

DUBLIN, CA–Annually, over 3.5 million students take the PSAT exam. The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a standardized test administered by the College Board. Nationally, the emphasis has focused on sophomores and junior. However, younger students are also eligible to participate. The scores are also utilized to determine eligibility and qualification for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Historically, the test had been administered on Saturday mornings during the fall. In more recent years, a national test date has been established with two alternate days. This year, it took place on October 10th. While the exam was being proctored for all 9th – 11th graders, the Seniors were treated to a rotating seminar schedule. This included discussion with representatives from Las Positas College and U.C. Santa Barbara. The third session focused on life after high school and the high potential of living away from home.

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While it varies by district or school, the average cost for the exam is around $16.00. Under regular circumstances, it would be up to the student to pay this fee. Under a program that was initiated in 2017, the Dublin Partners in Education worked with the Dublin High School administration. The result was that DPIE agreed to fund this testing program for the second year in a row – at no cost to the students. OneDublin.org reached out to two assistant vice principals at DHS to solicit their feedback on this important day. Krista Taylor and Jennifer Nickl provided the responses.

OneDublin.org: In this day and age, do you advise students to prepare or study for the PSAT exam or is it wiser to go in “cold”?

Taylor/Nickl: “If students would like to study for the PSAT we advise them that they can find practice exams and questions on the College Board website. We do advise to students use their PSAT results to help them prepare for the SAT. When students receive their PSAT scores they are given a personalized study plan through Khan Academy. If students want to “go cold” as freshmen, that is not necessarily a bad thing. For most, this is their first glimpse of these tests. The PSAT 8/9 is low stakes so taking the test cold gives them an understanding of the test itself and an idea of where they are “at this moment in time”. They can then use the information to improve performance for the next year.”

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OneDublin.org: Can you provide a basic outline of PSAT?

Taylor/Nickl: “The PSAT is 2 hours and 45 min with three five-minute breaks. There is a reading, writing, and math section on the PSAT.”

OneDublin.org: As opposed to SBAC testing, the stakes appear to be a bit higher with the PSAT/SAT. Does the administration/staff offer strategies to students to reduce stress levels?

Taylor/Nickl: “Taking the test in a familiar environment will hopefully give our students confidence and reduce stress. We want the test to be taken seriously, but not stressed over.”

OneDublin.org: Describe the benefits of hosting the exam during the week at the school that the students attend every day?

Taylor/Nickl: “Offering the PSAT during the school allows all 9th-11th grades students to have an opportunity to practice test taking skills. This “levels the playing field” for students who may have weekend commitments. With testing the whole school, we can also look for trends in student learning. This may have implications in classroom instruction. The results of this test will provide valuable feedback about students’ academic strengths and areas in need of improvement. This also gave us the opportunity to host a College Readiness Day for our Seniors. Our Seniors had an opportunity to attend three workshops aimed at educating and preparing them for life after high school.”

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We would like to thank Krista Taylor and Jennifer Nickl for sharing their insights. OneDublin.org would also like to acknowledge the Dublin Partners in Education for supporting a program that ultimately benefits all Dublin High School students.

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