The PSAT is run by the College Board, who tracks each students’ score, along with each AP exam they take.
The PSAT is run by the College Board, who tracks each students’ score, along with each AP exam they take.
(Photo credit: Ava Radovic/Canva/Achona Online)

2023 PSAT impacts high schoolers by going digital

 The PSAT annually takes over each AHN high schooler’s mind every October with its mandatory test for Juniors, but as of 2023, it sparked much more controversy with its major switch from paper to digital. As it led to much technical difficulty and added stress, most of the schools that took part in the test were left in disarray on October 11, 2023. 

The PSAT stands for preliminary SAT, meaning that it preps each student for the real SAT when it comes time to prepare for college. It is a standardized test that colleges might not make mandatory, but high schools typically do for the 10th and 11th grade. It consists of two sections, one being on math, and the other on reading and writing comprehension. It is seen as a benchmark for students to understand how college entrance tests work and also qualifies students for the National Merit Scholarship, which awards students who scored within the top 1% of their state. Since 1959, the PSAT had been an universal experience for each teenager, as each student anxiously waited for their score to return back to them. 

 Sophomore Khloe Clay says “I feel like the online PSAT was a little easier and quicker, but it was definitely an adjustment from the paper test that we did last year.” 

With the traditional PSAT, students usually weren’t worried about the test, because they knew what to expect with a pencil and bubble sheet. However, the College Board decided to make the PSAT digital that began in the fall of 2023. This means that students would take it completely with their computer, and no scantron was needed. This came to be because the college entrance exams, such as the ACT and SAT, also went digital. With the 2023 test, there were sixty-four minutes for reading and writing questions, and seventy for the math sections. This made the test half an hour shorter. The digital test consisted of ninety-eight questions, that differed from the traditional one hundred thirty-nine questions. The overall advantage that comes with this includes less work and preparation for the newly created digital SAT. 


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Throughout October 11, high schools around the nation experienced trouble as they tried to get their students through the digital exam and sent students into an academic frenzy. 8th and 9th graders’ servers went completely down, prohibiting the younger students from taking the exam. In addition, schools in Jacksonville went an hour late because the reading and writing sections kept glitching and kicking the students out of their test. Multitudes of Catholic schools with iPads also couldn’t get the exam to work because the Bluebook app was designed specifically for computers. The exam also gave a disadvantage to the class of 2025, because this was the first time it was digital, and the exam was the only one that contributed to the National Merit program. Now, some students have yet to take the exam due to complications with downloads, which affected how students receive scores later on. In total, there were over 1.2 million high school students who took the PSAT on October 11, despite the variety of setbacks experienced by each school. 

Academy has had their fair share of National Merit finalists, which showcases the importance of how the PSAT takes part in each school’s community. (Photo credit: Ava Radovic/Canva/Achona online)

Ultimately, the PSAT left many students panicking over whether or not they performed as well as they would’ve if the exam was on paper. Additionally, students faced more problems regarding the test, as they had been kicked out and were technically unable to take the exam, or their exam was pushed back. Since the PSAT is already a stress inducing event, officials can imagine the added stress also impacted the scores and overall feelings after taking the test. This change in test-taking demonstrates how sometimes too much change in the technological world could lead to more anxiety and difficulties across the board, and could actually harm the ease that was supposed to happen when switching from paper to computer. 

College counselor Lisa Kolar adds, “I think that the digital test impacted the students positively and negatively. It was the first time the test was administered, and the test was also quicker. The quicker test could be beneficial, but the students will need time to get used to the new format for the impact to be positive.”

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