Wednesday at 8:00 AM, sophomores and juniors across the country sat down to the 5-section PSAT to determine their current abilities to perform on the actual SAT. Slightly shorter than the real thing, this exam contains four 25-minute math and critical reading section and one 30-minute writing section.
It is a difficult test to sell to all but the most die-hard college-bound students at our school. This year we offered the test to all juniors and sophomores but gave the option to students to opt out if they chose not to take it. Coincidentally, the same students who would most likely opt out because they don’t plan to take the SAT or go to college are the same ones who don’t listen to the announcements about opting out, and therefore are the ones asking me the day before if they can opt out, or what happens if they simply don’t show up to school the next day.
Then there are others who say things like, “My brother told me the PSAT doesn’t have anything to do with college, so why do we have to take it?” I try to explain that no, colleges don’t see the scores, but the test helps them see where they might score on the SAT (which they do see) to help them direct their studying. I throw the National Merit Scholarship into the mix to entice with money, and there’s usually at least one student in each class who is roused from his stupor long enough to ask, “How much?”
It’s often a student who is failing at least one class, so the likelihood of them scoring in the top percentile is slim, but I vaguely say that it depends on the college…for my students who do have a shot, they are interested and working hard, but we unfortunately have a lot that are less than thrilled to spend another morning in the gym when the A/C kicks on and it sounds like we’re all being gassed.
Anyway, I’ve decided that proctoring tests has to be one of the most boring job in the entire world – or at least in the world of education. I was excited when I requested – and was kindly granted – a 15-minute break to go pump during what is normally my free period. Otherwise, it was four hours of pacing. Thankfully, I wore a pedometer to keep me motivated. During that time, I did some counting, so –
PSAT: By the Numbers
25: the number of students in my testing group in the gym
11: the number of boys in my group
3: the number of lefties
4: the number of students who completely tuned out – head down, doodling flowers, spaceships out of bubbled answers…
17: the number of students I saw writing on their test booklet to help them choose an answer
16: the number of rows of bleachers on one side of the gym
50: the average number of butts that could fit on each row
1600: my estimate for the bleacher capacity
3754: number of steps I walked during that time
11: number of testing groups in my gym
1: amazingly, the number of students in our group who went to the bathroom during that time
0: number of times I dropped by coffee thermos – I was terrified I would do so and interrupt the entire test, and so was super vigilant to not drop it, because I’ve been dropping a lot of things lately…