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The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

MCPS PSAT test cancellation: online exam mayhem

On+Oct.+11%2C+2023%2C+Principal+John+Taylor+sent+out+an+email+to+the+WCHS+community+about+the+cancellation+of+the+PSAT.+
Photo courtesy of Principal John Taylor
On Oct. 11, 2023, Principal John Taylor sent out an email to the WCHS community about the cancellation of the PSAT.

In less than a year, yet another digital standardized test administered by the College Board has crashed for WCHS students. On Wednesday Oct. 11, many WCHS students were around 45 minutes into PSAT, when it was suddenly canceled due to technical difficulties. The test was also postponed for other MCPS schools like Northwest High School and Blair High School.

The PSAT, also known as the Preliminary SAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, is taken by sophomores and juniors around the U.S. to practice for the SAT and potentially earn scholarships. According to the Princeton Review, 3.6 million students take the PSAT every year.

“The [Collegeboard] server was overwhelmed with so many students using it,” WCHS junior Andrew Guo said. “There were plenty of students who signed in properly but did not show up on the proctor’s screen, and some proctors couldn’t even sign in to the server. Since they couldn’t properly monitor the students, MCPS ended up just canceling the PSAT.”

After the test was canceled, students were escorted to the auditorium or cafeteria for a quiet study hall for two to three hours. As students felt disappointed and anxious, many felt the study hall was a waste of time.

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“We all just sat there with hardly anything to do since we didn’t get much homework assigned the day before,” Guo said. “A lot of people just ended up going home.”

This is not the first time a digital test run by the College Board was canceled. Last year, the AP Chinese exam also crashed, resulting in WCHS students having to take a make-up exam two weeks later. These recurring crashes have made many students frustrated, especially juniors taking the PSAT to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program.

“I was annoyed that the test got canceled because I’ve studied really hard for months and was aiming for the National Merit Scholarship,” WCHS junior Kai Zou said. “People were already feeling uneasy about the PSAT going digital, and the test crash just worsened our experience.”

Mixed opinions have already been expressed about College Board tests in general going digital, like the SAT in March 2024. As a result of this recent event, the College Board’s decision to go digital might become increasingly unpopular, especially among WCHS students.

“Since the SAT is going digital, I don’t want to take it in case it crashes just like the PSAT,” Zou said. “I’m leaning more towards taking the ACT since I know it won’t go digital any time soon.”

Fortunately, WCHS swiftly rescheduled the make-up testing day to a week later on Thursday, Oct. 19 to help maintain student momentum and focus for the test. However, the lingering effects of the crashed PSAT still remain for many WCHS students’ mindsets.

“The cancellation of the PSAT definitely threw me off my game,” Zou said. “It makes me feel like maybe I shouldn’t try my hardest because it could all be for nothing. Hopefully, the new testing date will run smoothly.”

 

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About the Contributor
Kalena Yee, Features Editor
Kalena Yee is a senior at WCHS and a Features Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. This is her third year taking journalism. When she’s not writing for the Observer, Kalena enjoys drawing, dancing, baking, collecting stationery, and exploring cafes with her friends.

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