As the PSAT is now a few weeks behind us, the Brother James Kelly, CFX Scholar’s new initiative has gone off without a hitch. The class of 2024’s Kelly Scholars participated in morning tutoring sessions and an optional practice test in an attempt to improve scores on the PSAT, and most of its participants have come away with positive results.

According to Mr. Jason Ader, one of the moderators of the Kelly Scholars Program, the main goal is to give students practice. He said, “They’re already good at what they’re doing, but they don’t see the test enough – only once a year…Mount Saint Joe doesn’t teach for the test. We’re not a test-specific school, whereas other schools are.”

The program got its start in the spring of 2022, when Kelly Scholars were asked to sign in to Khan Academy’s Official SAT Practice. This site was linked to CollegeBoard, meaning that students’ PSAT scores would automatically be linked to the site, and students would receive targeted practice based on their scores.

Despite seeming like the perfect practice tool, there was no real incentive to continue to use it, and it fell out of favor among students. While this resource is still available to any MSJ student, this part of the program just wasn’t enough, as Mr. Ader put it, “Students just didn’t want to do it.”

The reading section of Khan Academy’s Official SAT Practice site. Photo credit: Alex Magno

Over the summer, school principal Mr. Frank Espinosa approached the two heads of the Kelly Scholars, Dr. Rebecca Obniski and Mr. Ader, and proposed that they expand on the initiative from the spring. According to Mr. Ader, “Dr. O and I just started brainstorming with the help of Mr. McDivitt and Mr. Espinosa, and this is the original program that we came up with.”

The practice test, which took place on the first of October, consisted of, “A half to three-quarters length practice PSAT test, where the students will take the test under the same sort of timing, and then they’ll get a focused review after that test.” This part of the program was not mandatory, having taken place on a Saturday.

What was mandatory were the four-morning tutoring sessions that took place over the span of two weeks. Each focused on its own specific section, one on reading, one on factoring, one on writing and grammar, and a final class on word problems. “The morning sessions thus far have been well attended…but no matter what, it has been more practice, and the more problems you see, the more prepared you are for the actual PSAT.”

Reactions to the morning sessions among Kelly Scholars were somewhat mixed. According to Mr. Ader, “some students I’ve talked to have said that it’s been incredibly helpful, others haven’t.” Riley Payne from the class of 2024 has more of an unorthodox opinion of his experience.

Riley Payne going over a PSAT practice test in the library. Photo credit: Alex Magno

According to Payne, he struggled a bit to pay attention each morning before school, “I think that’s what inspired me to seek out more practice on the test because I was thinking to myself, ‘I probably won’t remember most of this by the time I take the PSAT.’”

“I was able to look at most of those problems and say: ‘Oh, I’ve seen this one before.” I was feeling pretty confident in my accuracy,” said Payne.

Students are currently waiting for the results of the PSAT Test that they took earlier this month. But if the numbers are an improvement, as is hoped by Mr. Ader, then the program may be implemented and expanded for next year’s Kelly scholars.

Alex Magno is a member of the Multimedia Journalism class