PSAT cancelled following updated COVID-19 guidelines

Will Sheehy

The school cancelled the administration of the Jan. 26 PSAT on Jan. 8 following a series of COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which required schools to suspend all in-person activities for the month of January.

Head of Upper School Beth Slattery informed families of the decision in an email Jan. 11, noting that while the PSAT, which already had been delayed from its usual October date to January, was no longer available, students can still be considered for the National Merit Scholarship Program through their SAT score.

The alternative requires students to submit a form to indicate their interest by April 1, take an official administration of the SAT between Aug. 2020 and June 2021 and submit their score to National Merit Scholarship Program.

Students share their thoughts

Matteo Dall’Olmo ’22 said he felt unaffected by the cancellation of the PSAT.

“I don’t really care about the PSAT cancellation because National Merit is not a really important thing to me,” Dall’Olmo said. “I’m more focused on the SAT, and I just hope my March date does not get cancelled.”

Slattery noted that upcoming administrations of the SAT in March, May and June may ultimately be cancelled as well. However if county guidelines permit, the school will offer the exam she said. Students who are not able to sign up for the SAT at school are able to register at a different location, and then request to have their registration moved to campus through the school.

“As a parent, I have watched my own children face the disappointments that COVID has wrought , and I am profoundly sorry for how difficult this has been for everyone,” Slattery said in her email to students. “I believe we are in the worst of it right now, and I remain hopeful that things will improve over the next few months allowing us to safely administer future standardized test sittings.”

Ethan Rose ’22 said he agreed with the decision to cancel the PSAT, because of the increase in COVID-19 cases.

“Due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles right now, it was probably the right decision to not administer the PSAT,” Rose said.

Slattery offers advice about the cancellation

Although the administration of the PSAT is traditionally a hallmark of both sophomore and junior year, Slattery said the cancellation of the PSAT has little effect on students.

“As a former college admission officer and HW Dean, I also want to say that, while the PSAT can feel like an important milestone, these scores do not go to colleges and they have very little impact on the college admission process,” Slattery said. “National Merit recognition does not improve a student’s chances of admission to a selective college. There is potential scholarship money associated with the designation, and we believe there will be a pathway for students to receive that designation through the alternate method.”