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#PSAT: Confidentiality vs Memes

Nicole Joy Balawon, Student Life Editor

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This morning, over 3.5 million American high school sophomores (and juniors) took the PSAT exam, short for Preliminary SAT. Administered by the College Board, the PSAT serves to gauge students’ level of academic aptitude and to help prepare themselves for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the most widely used standardized test for college admissions in the United States. Also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT) , the PSAT is the only thing standing between you and the gates to a $2500 scholarship prize and a slew of other desirable benefits.

With so much weighing on the results of these tests, confidentiality is a must.

This trend was broken in 2014. October 15, according to knowyourmeme.com, Reddit user NO_USERNAMES_FREE started the subreddit that launched this meme. Through this subreddit, titled “Hey guys let’s illegally discuss the PSAT”,  many added their impression of the test to the thread and began sharing inside jokes as well as answers concerning content found on the test.

Many students took to Twitter to discuss and poke fun of the SATs. Within 24 hours of the test being administered the hashtag #PSAT was tweeted out over 330,000 times. One joke made fun of a question which compared children to dolphins. Another popular joke involved the extreme stress students are under to both remain seated while taking the test and to perform well.

USA Today even published a post which included tweets about the PSATs. That same day, the Twitter account PSAT2014 was created as to go about “Recapping the 2014 PSAT. Original Parody Account” the account sent out over 3,000 tweets and gained over 60,000 followers in less than 48 hours.

This has called into question the confidentiality rights on a test such as this. Punishment in discussing questions explicitly amongst other classmates and peers have resulted in severe and extreme punishment – like having the scores of possibly the entire classroom or grade invalidated. Maybe even the whole school?

So how come students can simply get away with easily discussing these questions on a social platform?

Following the trend in 2014, students took to Twitteron October 14th, 2015 and immediately began sharing their impressions of the test. On the exam itself, one question contained a passage about a girl named Herminia whose parents held different opinions about her poetry being published. That day, many Twitter users began posting tweets about the test along with the hashtag #PSAT, many of which referenced the Herminia test question.

Meanwhile, Tumblr users began posting jokes about the PSAT, easily merging it with already existing memes such as  The Signs, Pepe the Frog and “Why the F*** You Lyin” . Shortly after the tweets went viral, news sites The Daily Dot and Fusion published articles about the online reactions to the PSAT test.

Now – 2016.

Not even an hour after the final PSAT was finished at Kennesaw Mountain High School, memes of the PSAT were all over Twitter. Now, at about 101K Tweets, #PSAT is the number one trending tag on Twitter nationwide.

While it is unknown whether or not it be appropriate to outright discuss  meme content online via school newspaper, a brave soul on Twitter tweeted the College Board, asking for their stance on the PSAT memes.

 

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