Don’t worry, the PSAT is on us

Tenth-graders at Berkeley High School will take the Preliminary SAT — the practice test for the real thing — for free tomorrow morning. Word has it that an anonymous donor picked up the tab to encourage more kids to take it.

The test normally costs about $15, so if all 875 sophomores showed up, that could amount to a $13,000 donation. I’d say that’s a pretty nice gesture.

Kids are encouraged to take the PSAT in the fall of their 10th-grade and 11th-grade years, and not just for the practice. Those who fill in enough of the right bubbles might qualify for college funding, including the National Merit Scholarship.

About 2,300 Oakland sophomores signed up for this week’s PSAT, which is about two-thirds of the 10th-grade class. The district’s goal is for all of its 10th-graders to take it.

How much of a deterrent is the testing fee for high school students? There is a low-income fee reduction for high school juniors, but not sophomores. If a generous donor stepped up to cover the costs here in Oakland, would more kids show up to take it? Has anyone done that here?

image by midnight_peace89’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • ousd parent

    I believe the PSAT is free for every 10th grade student, courtesy of the Oakland School District. Last year was the first year they offered this.

  • Sue

    Really? Would have been nice to know last year when my older son was a 10th grader at Skyline.

    Oh, well, maybe our family wasn’t notified because he’s a Spec. Ed. student, and doesn’t test worth a darn, so there wasn’t any point to him taking the PSAT. Maybe the general ed population got the word – but, I still wonder how we missed it, since our boy’s been in all general ed classes (with appropriate supports) since the 4th grade.

  • Jose, Former Student


    The principal at Skyline last year missed the boat on many things. Thank God she sent on down 580 to another city.

  • OUSD Parent

    Should clarify, this year is free for 10th graders, but not certain about last year.

  • Sharon

    This is a good time to tell parents about the College Board Web site at http://www.collegeboard.com/. I wish I had known about it when my older daughter was in high school at Skyline. The whole process would have been less mysterious.

    The College Board is the organization responsible for developing, administering, and scoring the SAT, the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), and the Advanced Placement Program. Their Web site provides studying tools and testing information, including a sign-up to have grade-specific e-newsletters and the “Official SAT Question of the Day” sent to you by email. All are free practice materials.

    “Taming the College Admissions Beast” (http://www.collegeadmissionsbeast.com/ is another helpful Web site for families preparing for the college years. Created by two San Francisco public school parents, this “friendly pathway through the information jungle” is packed with tips, resources, deadline reminders and announcements.

    OUSD school counselors are simply overburdened, so it is wise for parents and students to do some independent research and preparation for these important tests.