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Soaring High, Scoring High

Teacher Erica Smith Gives Advice on SATs and ACTs

Michael Antonelli, Staff Reporter

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On Wednesday, October 11, the Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior Classes in the Main Building and Ninth Grade Center spent three hours taking the PSAT, or Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. This test is also referred to as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, as it is used to determine the top one percent of test-takers from across the nation, who are selected to be National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists and have a chance to earn a $2,500 scholarship.

“Every student should take the PSAT,” Smith said. “They should take it as soon as possible, ideally freshman year, so they can see how they did freshman year and see how they can improve for their sophomore and junior years, if they want to be a National Merit Scholar.”

Achieving a top one percent score and qualifying for the scholarship is considered a great achievement. Clear Lake High School has developed several programs to help students reach this goal.

“For National Merit Scholars in particular, we choose the top 100 students based on on their sophomore PSATs, and then we invite those students to come join the Lake Scholars, which is the National Merit training program,” Mrs. Smith said. “Then we work with them after the end of their sophomore year during the summer and the beginning of their junior year.”

Even though Lake Scholars focuses on helping juniors and sophomores, freshmen can still get a head start on their studying and receive early assistance from Lake teachers.

“We do have a newer program called Future Scholars for the freshmen,” Mrs. Smith said. “We take the top 30 or 40 freshman scores and invite them to join Future Scholars.”

While important, the PSAT is only required to be taken once, during the beginning of sophomore year. However, its relative, the SAT, plays a far more common, yet critical role in the lives of students.

“SAT will get you into college,” Mrs. Smith said. “PSAT can get you scholarships. That’s why we push for students to take the PSAT. If they’re successful and become a National Merit Scholar, then more doors open to them money-wise.”

Both the PSAT and the SAT can have a large impact on a student’s future prospects. However, they should not be allowed to interfere with a student’s daily life and well-being.

“Take it as much as possible, but be aware of burnout,” Mrs. Smith said. “If you start getting frustrated or bored, take a month off. Don’t cram it down your throat.”

Whatever strategy you choose to employ in regard to the SATs, remember that there are multiple chances to take each test, and that they are only tools to give you an advantage in the future.

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