A case of post-pandemic panic

Juniors express anxiety heading into their first PSAT this fall

Jones College Prep juniors feel disadvantaged as the fall PSAT looms in the distance, since both PSATs freshman and sophomore year were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. 

Oct. 13 is the date set for the junior year PSAT, and students said they are beginning to feel the pressure. After losing the two practice opportunities freshman and sophomore year, this year’s juniors are experiencing first-time stress and the National Merit Scholarship pressure. 

“Even though it is still the PSAT… it is for the Merit Scholarship, so it does count for more,” said Kathryn Harper ‘23. “It really does suck that we haven’t had any practice with the test whatsoever.” 

This test also carries extra pressure because it is the first time juniors will be immersed in the PSAT environment. 

“I have never been in the exact environment that the PSAT and SAT takes place in, with the three hours and everything. Even though I have taken a practice test at home, it is nothing like what it will be like on Oct. 13, so I don’t feel prepared at all,” said Jiya Pai ‘23. 

Even if students could take a practice test at home, they won’t know exactly what they need to improve upon until they see how they perform in the in-person test environment.

“If I had taken the test freshman or sophomore year, I could have seen what I needed to focus on or practice more for the next test without feeling the pressure of the National Merit,” said Luis Delgado ‘23. 

Recently, students have also come back to the classroom for the first time in a while. Adapting back to in-person learning has intensified the stress and first time nerves for the PSAT. 

“All things considered, I am not feeling prepared for the PSAT… especially since we’re still facing the jet-lag equivalent of going back to school,” said Delgado. 

Due to the cancellation of the previous two tests, along with being back in the classroom, some students said they would have appreciated more structured practice opportunities. 

“I felt that there could have been a practice SAT before the actual PSAT, where you could go and take it voluntarily. And then have some sort of support system where somebody goes over the test with you about what you got wrong,” said Pai. 

On top of creating a study plan individually for the upcoming PSAT, there are also concerns about managing studying for the test and the workload of junior year. 

“I think that it would be really helpful to have something after school where students could willingly come to study for the SAT,” said Harper. “It’s really hard to manage the AP classes that a lot of juniors are taking, so putting the SAT studying on top of managing schoolwork and not having any experience with the test in the past, is a lot to take on”. 

Since the majority of the studying happens on a student’s own time, Pai is also finding it difficult to manage.

“I’ve been trying to study, but I keep running out of time. Every time I find time [to study for the PSAT], there’s something that I forgot to do for something else,” said Pai. 

On the flipside, Harper believes that juniors could benefit from independent study responsibilities. 

“I think that the only advantage would come out to be that students are going to be very organized and on top of themselves, to make sure that they are prepared for this test which they have never taken before,” said Harper. 

Since juniors cannot undo testing cancellations, many said they came to the conclusion that all they can do is their best and support one another. 

“I would just like to wish all of my fellow juniors who are taking it, good luck! Do your best, don’t stress, it’s going to be fine,” said Harper.