Saturday May 4, 2013

LEE -- Today some students at Lee Middle and High School will find out whether the skills and practice they’ve gained through new SAT and PSAT preparatory programs at the school has paid off.

SAT exams will be offered for southern Berkshire County students this morning at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington.

Dan Korte, the Lee high school guidance counselor for students in grades 10 through 12, said the school has been doing a lot of work this year to provide test preparation opportunities.

SAT and PSAT programs are nationally utilized programs administered by the College Board. Results from the SAT exams are commonly used and required in the college admission process.

Some colleges have made SAT scores an optional part of their admissions requirements. Area schools like Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, Clark University in Worcester and Smith College in Northampton are among those to do so.

At Lee, however, the emphasis is for all students to study for and at least take the PSAT exams.

"We started this year to require all sophomores and juniors to take the PSAT," said Korte.

He said the exam is a good way to gauge students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills.

The school’s guidance department organized a half-day period in the fall for students and teachers to work together to prepare for taking the PSATs by going over the test format and trying practice questions.


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Normally the fee for students to take the PSAT exam is $14 per student, but Lee waived the fee for all sophomores and juniors whom all took the test back in October.

This year, the high school contracted with Jim Hurley, who has been running a Think Ink SAT Preparation Program at the school since Jan. 30. The last session was held this week.

Students could voluntarily register for one of two sessions offered on Wednesday evenings. Lee Public Schools subsidized the cost at a rate of $150 for 12 sessions and at no cost for students who qualify for the federal free and reduced price lunch program. Korte said 48 students took advantage of the program.

From the perspective of at least two Lee juniors, preparation for PSAT and SAT exams is already helping them find success.

According to Korte, Maureen Feldman and Jack Harding are the first students in several years at the school whose PSAT scores from last year have qualified them for the National Merit Scholarship Program, which will award 9,600 college scholarships in 2014. Of about 1.5 million students entering the competition, Feldman and Harding are among 50,000 national high scorers who are now in the running for scholarships.

"I think [the tests] are still really important for getting into college," said Harding.

"Every time you take the exams, it’s good because you’re building skills for the next time," said Feldman, who noted how students have the option to re-take the exams to improve their scores.

Both students said they not only took advantage of test prep programs at their school but they also sought extra help from teachers and used resources like daily practice questions offered on the College Board website, www.collegeboard.org.

Asked about advice he’d give for students about to take the test on Saturday, Harding said, "Don’t be daunted by the fact it’s the SATs. It’s just another test."