Many underclassmen have what they call “the dreaded PSAT” marked on their calendars every year. But as of this year, the College Board has decided to move the PSAT to an online format – a first for everyone – potentially reducing student’s sense of dread as the online exam will be around 45 minutes shorter.

The PSAT, which is also known as the NMSQT, stands for the Preliminary SAT, which helps prepare students for the SAT that they will take in their junior or senior year. Starting this year, instead of walking into the testing room with their number 2 pencils and erasers, HBA students will walk in with their Chromebooks instead, and prepare themselves for an all-digital PSAT, which will be a new experience for both students and teachers. 

Jennifer Garriss, HBA’s high school counselor overseeing test administration at the school, wants students to be aware of some changes that will happen due to this new format. She explained, “The digital SAT Suite of Assessments uses multistage adaptive testing. Each test section (Reading and Writing, Math) is divided into two equal-length, separately timed parts, called modules. Students answer a set of questions in the first module before moving on to the next. The questions that students are given in the second module depend on how they performed on the first module.” Garriss also noted that students will be given more time to answer each question, therefore giving more weight to students’ skills and knowledge rather than their test-taking speed. She estimated that the digital PSAT/NMSQT will be substantially shorter, lasting 2 hours and 14 minutes instead of almost 3 hours.

The test will be administered through an app called Bluebook. Garriss, along with the other counselors, have been familiarizing students with the app. In recent joint homerooms, they addressed how students should prepare for this and what they can expect, as well as how Bluebook works. Garriss recommends that students take advantage of the full-length practice test that is available in Google Classroom. Students aren’t the only ones who are experiencing something new as teachers have also been undergoing training in order to proctor the online test. The digital PSAT will be administered to HBA students on October 27.