Bartow County's eighth-graders have a golden opportunity to get a preview of the standardized tests they'll have to take to get into college.
For the first time ever, the school system is offering the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test 8/9 free of charge to all students in the eighth-grade at Adairsville, Cass, South Central and Woodland middle schools on Thursday, Jan. 24.
The PSAT 8/9 is a standardized assessment specifically designed for younger students that provides practice for the SAT and identifies areas students need to improve on as they prepare for their post-secondary educational endeavors.
"This free test for our eighth-grade students will give them a head start as they begin to lay out a roadmap to their future," Superintendent Dr. Phillip Page said. "Not only does the PSAT 8/9 serve as practice for the PSAT and ultimately SAT, but test takers will also see grade-level benchmarks on their score reports. Those benchmarks help students and educators determine what they need to work on in high school to be ready for college after graduation."
Cass Middle lead counselor Tracey Moore, who also is the eighth-grade counselor, said she thinks it's important for students to take the PSAT before they leave middle school "so they can get an early glimpse of what the SAT/ACT may look like."
"This will allow students to be better prepared and have fewer butterflies when they take the SAT or ACT for real in high school," she said. "This early exposure should help their SAT/ACT scores be higher. The PSAT results will also be beneficial to the students, parents and educators."
The exam, which takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete, is composed of three sections.
The reading section focuses on processing information, similar to what might be experienced in a thoughtful, evidence-based discussion.
In the writing and language section, the test taker will become an editor, improving passages written especially for the exam. Students will use the same skills they use to proofread their own schoolwork.
The mathematics section covers a range of math practices, with emphasis on problem-solving, modeling, algebraic structure and using tools strategically.
Local testing coordinators at each school, along with proctors and monitors, will administer the exam to roughly 1,000 students across the county, according to Page.
"The PSAT 8/9 is not required but strongly encouraged, as it helps us prepare children for a highly successful future," he said. "Taking this test will also benefit those looking to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship or other scholarship opportunities."
Administering the test at the four middle schools will cost the school system about $11,000, and the money will be taken out of the general fund, Page said.
Student scores will be available in the spring.
For more information, students and parents should contact their middle school guidance counselor.