The Tower Editorial Board
The Tower (Grosse Pointe, Michigan)
The PSAT and the ACT Aspire, required pre-tests for the SAT and ACT, are essential in preparation for the standardized tests that loom ahead, considering that South does not offer a class specifically for test prep.
High scores on the ACT and SAT reflect a student’s knowledge and growth and are keys in a successful college search– so why doesn’t South offer test preparation outside of these practice tests?
Of course, many teachers take some of their own class time to teach test-taking skills, but a day or two of preparation can’t equate a course in in test-taking. Even then, though, the test skills learned in class might not be specifically for the ACT or SAT.
For instance, in AP Language and Composition, students are often tasked with completing short practice tests and essays, for which the instructors give advice on how to do better.
And though PSAT and ACT Aspire pre-tests provide practice for the same skills and knowledge that students will encounter on the real tests, they are not as valuable as a class and an educator.
In theory. scores from these pre-tests will predict a student’s level of achievement on the official ACT or SAT and will show targeted areas that students can work on improving. However, they aren’t as effective as a comprehensive SAT or ACT prep course due to their brevity.
These tests, obviously, have considerable value and should be taken seriously, but they are simply not enough. In a time when test scores and academic performance are weighing on students more than ever, a course in testing would be prudent.
One reason success on these practice tests is important is because students have the opportunity to earn scholarships. For consideration,students must score especially well on the test and have a history of academic merit. Students that otherwise would not have been exposed to the chance for scholarship money are given this opportunity by taking the required PSAT.
Scoring in the top 1 percent on the PSAT can lead to an opportunity of becoming a National Merit Scholar, a prestigious award that looks very impressive on transcripts.
Adequate preparation due to skills and content learned from the preliminary tests gives students a greater chance of receiving a high score on the ACT or SAT, which then opens the window for the potential of other scholarship opportunities.
Ultimately, we believe that standardized pre-testing can help to prepare students to the point where they feel ready and confident in their skills to take the “real deal” head-on. However, supplementing these pre-tests with preparatory courses would maximize students’ potential for success.
Image Credit: Abby Ferry