Stuyvesant Cancels Plans to Administer the PSAT

Stuyvesant canceled its plans to host the PSAT on January 26 due to school closure and weekly COVID-19 positivity rates increases in the city.

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Stuyvesant canceled its plans to administer the PSAT on January 26. Though the College Board provided three days to take the PSAT in October 2020 and an additional day on January 26, Stuyvesant decided not to administer the exam due to public high school school building closures and recent increases in weekly COVID-19 positivity rates across the city.

The PSAT, or Preliminary SAT, is a standardized test administered by the College Board. Though sophomores can take the exam, high-scoring juniors can qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. In past years, Stuyvesant hosted a PSAT day to administer the exam for all juniors and sophomores.

The PSAT cancelation came as a disappointment to many students. “I’ll be a little sad if I can’t take the PSAT,” junior Raj Dhanda said. “That merit distinction will be missed.”

Because many students were uncertain in their options to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program, a few have turned to out-of-state options earlier in the year to take the PSAT. “[The] College Board said that if the PSAT wasn’t being offered at my high school, that I should try and register to take it somewhere else. I called around to a few private high schools in the city, but that didn’t turn out well,” junior Elizabeth Stansberry said in an e-mail interview. “I’m from Texas, and my family was already planning to go to Dallas in October, so I decided to register to take it there.”

Additionally, some sophomores hoped to take the PSAT as part of preparation for the SAT. “I thought [the PSAT] would help me prepare for the SAT which I’d be taking in […] junior year. I planned to take it this year before the pandemic came, but now that the pandemic is here, I decided that I would not be taking it,” sophomore Alind Raad said in an e-mail interview.

There are, however, alternative options to apply for the National Merit Scholarship Program. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) website, “a student who does not take the PSAT/NMSQT in October 2020 or January 2021 because of illness, an emergency, or other extenuating circumstance, but meets all other requirements for NMSC program participation, may still be able to enter the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program.”

Stuyvesant not hosting the exam qualifies as an extenuating circumstance, allowing juniors to use scores from SATs administered between August 2020 to June 2021, instead of a PSAT/NMSQT scores, to be eligible for the 2022 National Merit Scholarship Program. “Fortunately, the College Board has announced that juniors may use the SAT or a PSAT score for the NSMQ, so students are not at a loss for National Merit submissions by not having a PSAT submission,” Director of Family Engagement Dina Ingram said in an e-mail interview.

In order to do so, juniors must send an official report of their SAT scores to NMSC and fill out the Alternate Entry Form by April 1. SAT scores can be submitted no later than October 15, 2021. Only students who have not taken the PSAT in October or January will be able to enter the competition through this route.

To qualify through the alternate entry, Ingram encourages students to take the SAT. “[Students] should seek out an SAT exam, even if it’s in another state, if possible, to take as a junior if they are interested in the National Merit Scholarship opportunity,” she said.

Sophomores can still prepare for the PSAT using various online resources available. “While the PSAT is good practice for sophomores, practice can be gained by free timed tests offered like the ones we arranged over the holiday break through our partnership with AppleRouth Tutoring or by finding them online,” Ingram said.

Though many are disappointed by the cancelation, some students have accepted the change. “I don’t care about it too too much,” junior Ajay Pal said. “All I will know is I tried hard to take the test, but I couldn’t, so it isn’t that bad. You have to deal with what life gives you.”