By holding the PSAT on a Saturday, LOSD is denying a critical opportunity for students

On Oct. 15, many Lake Oswego High School juniors spent their Saturday mornings taking College Board’s PSAT exam instead of sleeping in. This four hour experience mimics the SAT and allows students to earn scholarships cashing in at a few thousand dollars to reduce the financial strain of college.

In previous years, the PSAT at LOHS looked quite different. On Oct. 12, a half-day was built into the schedule with the purpose of allowing time for freshmen, sophomores and juniors to take their PSAT exam. The test was formerly offered to all three grade levels free of charge to provide the best opportunities possible to earn National Merit Scholarships. Building the PSAT into the school day and allowing students to take the test for free made access to the PSAT very fair and equitable. By default, many college preparatory requirements are not as easily accessible. The SAT costs money and often requires students to drive to parts of Portland or farther in order to even take the test. Students who are unable to access the same transportation or find it challenging to pay for SAT are at an inherent disadvantage to students with more access to both the test and resources.  The now required $20 fee is not expensive but could be potentially difficult to justify for many students who have a slim chance of gaining a scholarship. Many students may also choose to opt out of the exam due to schedule conflicts or difficulties with transportation.

This year around 160 juniors took the PSAT… out of 316 juniors at LOHS. This was about a 50 percent attendance rate for the PSAT. In previous years nearly all juniors chose to take the PSAT in addition to freshmen and sophomores who were also encouraged to take the test. This was an effective preparation for the SAT for students starting in their freshman year and the program produced numerous national merit scholarships over the years.

Regardless of why students are unable or unwilling to take the PSAT this school year, the opportunity cost is clear. The scholarships that students may receive from taking the PSAT can save thousands of dollars. The PSAT also can provide beneficial preparation for students later taking the SAT exam. By leaving barriers for students who might take the PSAT, the Lake Oswego School District is denying critical opportunities to students as they move towards pursuing college. Making a relatively small financial investment to provide the PSAT for all students would greatly increase the number of students taking the exam and would create opportunities for all students.