As the school year puts a dent in the calendar, so does Ray Dass, or at least his PSAT prep program. Over the years, hundreds of students have undergone the intense course, and school has seen the benefits, as AHS has been awarded the rank of #1 Private School in the nation for National Merit Semifinalists.
A recent alum of this program, I provide my insights and experiences of the months of tutoring torture that took me through the depths of a PSAT tunnel, which, eventually, let out to the light; and, thus, I dedicate this month’s Q Concept to the juniors who currently try to balance school work, extracurricular activities and the Dass man.
The infamy surrounding junior year becomes much worse when daily three-hour PSAT classes are added to the mix. Juggling a social life, academic life, and PSAT life throughout the first month-and-a-half of junior year is tough, maybe almost impossible, but totally worth it. These coming weeks will be filled with endless math problems and literary readings, both from teachers and a Barron’s book, and I encourage you (maybe even demand you) to not give up. You have endured quite a bit up until now, and it’s not time to stop yet.
I will explain why in three easy steps:
- PSAT not only prepares you for October, but also for November, December, January, etc. when you take the SAT. Given the tests are not identical, brushing up on more advanced math concepts seen on the SAT is a good idea, but nothing can compare to sitting for a test while in test-mode (if you have yet to see the symptoms of test-mode, wait until Oct. 11, the disease will be undeniable). As a student in the program, I often remember asking myself, “Is all this work really necessary? Do I have to come to school every Saturday morning?” YES. Yes, yes, yes. Mr. Dass knows what he is doing, and he will definitely get you into test-mode; you’ll be a ninja with a pencil as your nunchucks and the wisdom of Sensei Dass in your ear on test day. If you do it right, you’ll score high.
- National Merit status introduces you to opportunities and scholarships that can open the door to paths you didn’t know existed. Countless numbers of schools offer full-rides and partial scholarships with your National Merit Semifinalist status, such as the University of Southern California (50 percent tuition!).
- It’s fun…in a sadistic kind of way. Imagine spending weeks on end, every day for hours, witnessing and bonding with your friends over failure and triumph; it sounds like summer camp (psyche, it’s the National Merit Program – you thought). Some of my best memories from junior year are whining with my friends over late classes and Saturday testing and heading over to Chick-fil-A after class to recuperate our brains.
Nothing lasts forever, and as the months in the program come to an end, try and enjoy your last couple weeks and suck up the last drops of knowledge from your mentors and instructors.
P.S. My last minute tip: attend the last Monday prep day where everyone stays until 9:00 p.m. completing multiple practice tests. This was the most influential day of my time in the program.