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Burrell HS Students Benefit from PSAT

Taking the SAT college admission test has long been a rite of passage for students as they wind down their high school careers and look toward post-secondary education. Burrell School District is taking steps to make sure that its students are prepared for that rite, and the coursework they will face in college.

Since 2010, Burrell students in tenth and eleventh grade have been required to take the Preliminary SAT, or PSAT. Burrell School District reimbursing students for the cost of the test. “It’s worth the investment because of the data the students and the high school instructors get from the test,” Mr. Boylan said.

Taking the test prepares students in a very practical way for the SATs. BHS senior Marissa Smail said that taking the PSAT helped her to learn what types of questions would be asked on the SAT, how questions would be worded, and the general format of the test. “The PSAT gave me more experience working within the time constraints of the SATs, and exposed me to the wider breadth of material that could be on the SATs,” said Ben Wertkin, who is also a senior.
The test is divided into three areas: Math Problem-solving Skills, Critical Reading Skills, and Writing Skills. Students earn between 20 and 80 points in each section. Eleventh-grade students with a combined score above 200 in the three areas are eligible for National Merit Scholarships. Three Burrell students are eligible this year; scholarship winners are announced in the spring.

Both Ben and Marissa are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship.
Mr. Boylan said that PSAT scores determine eligibility for other scholarships from businesses and organizations. But aside from SAT-readiness and scholarships, requiring the students to take the PSAT has a more immediate purpose for high school educators. “The test gives us another method to assess our students, to see who could benefit from honors courses, for example,” Mr. Boylan said. “The results can serve as a great conversation starter between a student and guidance counselor in mapping out the student’s future.”

“The graduating class of 2012 was the first class that took the PSATs as sophomores, and, coincidentally, half of the students’ SAT scores had jumped significantly,” Mr. Boylan added.

Ben Wertkin summed up the importance of taking the PSAT: “If you work hard to do well on the PSAT and SAT, it will help you get scholarships and get into a better college. If you get into a better college, you’ll get a better degree and get a better job after graduation.”

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