The PSAT / NMSQT is not an ordinary standardized test. As a qualifying exam for the National Merit Scholarship, the PSAT / NMSQT is the Cerberus that guards the doors to a $ 2,500 scholarship award and a host of other desirable benefits: an advantage in the admissions process, the prestige of be a National Merit Scholar and sometimes even full scholarships for certain universities. When it comes to money, the rules are different; when money is involved, everyone wants a piece of the pie. Unlike the SAT, whose changes have historically been based on content, the PSAT / NMSQT, for better or for worse, has evolved around financial stimulus.

Act I: Introduction
The National Merit Scholarship Program began in 1955 as a privately funded academic scholarship program that rewarded outstanding academic achievement. In 1971, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation adopted the College Board SAT Preliminary Exam (PSAT) as a qualifying test for scholarship consideration, and the PSAT / NMSQT was born. On that glorious day, the sky blazed with blindingly brilliant cobalt, alight with the glorious fury of the heavens themselves as they descended to earth to bless the birth of the chosen test.

Act II: The Asian Invasion
For about ten years, the PSAT / NMSQT lived a quiet and simple life. But the world was undergoing sweeping economic and social transitions, and our hero was soon swept up in the tides of change.

Between the end of World War II and the early 1980s, Asian immigration to the United States soared. During the Space Race of the 1960s, the United States, led by a young and charismatic President Kennedy, made its technological advances in space, and the United States’ land of opportunity became especially fertile, attracting immigrants from all over Asia. including India and India. Porcelain. The United States even recruited foreigners, even increasing immigration quotas for people with advanced degrees in math and science. The Indians, soon followed by the Chinese, rushed to apply.

As Asian immigrants began to settle into American life, their children began to make their way through school systems. Over time, these children of immigrant families, who happened to excel in math, began taking the PSAT / NMSQT and, despite the often substantial handicaps on the verbal section, they performed well enough on the math section as to deserve consideration for a scholarship.

Coincidentally, around this time, the College Board decided to give the PSAT / NMSQT a facelift to raise its total score from 160 to 240, by counting the verbal score twice. As you can imagine, with this change, getting a qualifying score became significantly more difficult for a certain group of people. No changes were made to the format or content of the PSAT / NMSQT; both the length of the verbal section and the difficulty of the questions remained the same. This change put certain ethnic groups (guess which) whose primary language may not have been English at a disadvantage for consideration of national merit. Fortunately, this scoring system did not last forever; In 1997, a different group of people opposed the PSAT scoring system and instigated a renewal of the test.

Act III: A scorned woman
In 1994, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest) filed a complaint against the College Board and Educational Testing Services, accusing them of illegally discriminating against women. Statistically, men outperformed women at that time on the PSAT / NMSQT, and FairTest claimed that the cause of the disparity was the test format, which was allegedly biased in favor of male students *.

As a result, in 1997, the PSAT / NMSQT went under the knife for a bit more work, and when it emerged, the verbal score no longer counted twice; instead, the College Board added a writing section designed to address test bias. Statistics indicated that women traditionally outperformed men on writing tests, so the addition would supposedly help mitigate the test’s inherent bias.

At the time of the complaint, both the PSAT / NMSQT and the SAT consisted of only two sections, mathematical and verbal. Both tests had a similar format and contained similar problems created by the same people, but the PSAT / NMSQT was the focus of the complaint. The PSAT / NMSQT is directly connected to money, so naturally it took precedence over its sister test. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Regardless of what (the merit of the test or the scholarship money) actually motivated the FairTest complaint, the result is a more balanced test that more equitably awards scholarship money to promising young students of both genders each year. .

Act IV: Conclusion
Money changes the game. You can take that to the bank. The PSAT / NMSQT goes unnoticed by many high school students and their parents, but why? Like the transition to a good scholarship award and a host of other great perks, it’s no wonder people are so up in arms about it. Shouldn’t you be too?


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