September 05, 2003
In a few weeks, an unprecedented 6,600 sophomores in the Long Beach Unified School District will take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT).
It's free. The first public school district on the west coast to require the test, Long Beach schools are providing the PSAT at no charge to parents to encourage higher student achievement and to help more students prepare for college. $43,000 in federal Title V funds for innovative programs will help to pay for the test.
The PSAT will be administered to all LBUSD high school sophomores in October. The results will help students discover where they're doing well and where they need to concentrate their efforts. High PSAT and SAT scores can help more students get into college and win scholarships. More than two-thirds of local high school graduates already continue their education beyond high school.
In recent years, only about 10 percent of local high school students have been taking the PSAT to prepare for the SAT, the gatekeeper test for admission to many colleges and universities. This year, for the first time, all local 10th graders will have this opportunity.
The PSAT helps sophomores know where they stand while there is still time to improve. Students may discover they need to take more difficult math or writing courses in order to excel on the SAT.
One goal of giving all sophomores the PSAT is to motivate more students to take rigorous high school honors and Advanced Placement math and English courses. Over the past decade, completion of these tougher courses has become a more important factor in winning admission to top universities.
Students who take the more demanding courses usually score higher on the SAT.
With a growing flood of college applicants to four-year colleges and universities, higher scores on the SAT can be crucial. For many student athletes, the SAT is the gatekeeper test that determines eligibility for college sports. Top SAT scores can also help students attract major academic scholarships.
A combination of high SAT scores and good grades is required for admission to UC and other top colleges. If a student's GPA is lower, a higher SAT score is required.
Giving the PSAT to all 10th graders should encourage more students to do well in high school, seek college admission and continue their education beyond high school. For the first time, some students may view themselves as college material and see that a four-year degree is not an impossible dream.
Others who do not immediately pursue bachelors degrees will continue their education beyond high school. After taking the PSAT, more students should prepare to handle demanding college work and not need to take remedial college courses.