Every October, 10th and 11th Grade Marlborough students gather during one school day in order to take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT); however, Marlborough does not offer the Plan, which is the equivalent practice test for the ACT, another standardized college entrance exam. The PSAT, described by College Board as “a free, personalized college and career planning tool,” readies students for the SAT that they will take in later years by introducing them to both the test’s format and content. Unlike Marlborough, other schools typically offer the ACT Plan to ninth graders.
“[Offering the ACT Plan at Marlborough] isn’t worthwhile in my experience, because the results don’t have any lasting value, due to the relatively young age of the students when they take it,” College Counselor Michael Heeter said. According to Heeter, because most Marlborough girls end up taking the SAT, the PSAT is an important tool in helping the girls gauge which strategies and sections they need to work on in preparation. In addition, offering the ACT Plan and the PSAT would require girls to miss half a day of classes on two different days. As a result of the scheduling inconvenience, the administration chooses to prioritize one test over the other. Also, the PSAT is known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test because it provides juniors who achieve excellent scores with the opportunity for recognition through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), while the Plan does not make students eligible for NMSC scholarships.
Although the ACT Plan is not offered at Marlborough, Marlborough does offer juniors and, this year, sophomores a chance to take a practice ACT in order to help them decide which test they will ultimately take. Heeter is not aware of any girls who have taken the Plan elsewhere, but Natalie ’16 does plan to pursue it.
“I think it is important [to take the ACT Plan as well as the PSAT] in order to decide which one I want to take,” Natalie explained.