Across the country today, teens are taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, more commonly known as the PSAT. The exam is typically offered to high school first-year and sophomore students, or, you know, human beings who aren’t old enough to legally drive in most states.
The kids, unsurprisingly, are overwhelmingly unhappy about having to take the PSAT, and this is a generation of internet and, more specifically, social media natives, so they know exactly how to express their frustration: memes.
The PSAT represents the first real step to a teen’s “future,”a concept that’s stressful to think about at any age. The sophomores, though, are more or less required at this point to take a test that’s originally meant to prepare them for another test: the SAT. The only downside to taking it is the stress that comes with it. But the way it’s set up now, students who want to earn National Merit Scholar status or qualify for certain scholarships have to take a test that is otherwise meaningless.
As a college degree is quickly becoming as necessary as a high school diploma a generation ago, it’s increasingly important for students to start off on the right foot. But the kids just don’t seem to want to start so soon. Sure, we can’t trust high schoolers to make their own decisions, but when they’re being confronted with so many uninspiring required tests, it likely makes them less interested in more fruitful learning.
A future poet may not care at all about calculus, just as an engineer-in-the-making may not be able to write a coherent paragraph. Kids need breadth but increased standardized testing may not be the only answer.