Should classes resume after PSATs?


Students often find themselves unfocused during the 35-minute classes following the PSATs. [AMBER WU/THE BLUE & GOLD]

As October rolls around each year, sophomores and juniors at Taipei American School (TAS) take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSATs), a Collegeboard standardized test mimicking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).

Students taking the PSATs spend their mornings in the Derryl Franz Middle School Gymnasium (MSG), which serves as the main exam room for the standardized test in previous years. Freshmen would spend the morning participating in activities prepared by faculty and staff while the seniors have the whole morning free. After the examination, all students, both the test takers and the non-test takers, would resume classes following a condensed schedule.

The length of all classes are reduced from the usual 80 minutes to 35 minutes in the afternoon; however, with less time in class, students have little time to learn new materials, causing the system to be ineffective to students’ learning. According to a study conducted by Monroe Brent, longer classes allow students to build reasoning skills to better understand and remember new information. Therefore, students will not be able to learn productively in 35-minute classes.

Since the PSATs are also regarded as a form of exam, students should also have the option to leave campus after taking the test, as during the final exam periods, students are allowed to go home after taking their exams to rest and recharge.

As students are habituated to longer class periods, the shortened class time would minimize the amount of new material that was supposed to be covered in the usual 80-minute class.

Many teachers limit the amount of classwork as a result of the shortened schedule, causing students to not learn as much as they would compared to a 80-minute class. Other teachers attempt to pack a 80-minute class’s worth of material into a 35-minute class, making students overwhelmed over the amount of material they have to absorb in a shorter class.

Additionally, with the lengthy three-hour PSAT session, many test taking students feel overwhelmed with the requirement to resume classes right after the test as they would need to absorb new information and knowledge taught by their teachers.

Ultimately, PSATs day should be regarded as an exam day where students who take the test can return home right after their assessment while the students not taking the test can stay at home due to inefficient learning during shortened class time.