Top Schools Swap the PSAT for the CLT10

Jeremy Tate

By Jeremy Tate

Several leading schools across the country, including The Heights School in Maryland and Veritas School in Virginia, have stopped requiring the PSAT for their tenth-grade students. They have turned to the CLT10, an alternative that relies on better material and offers a better testing experience. This represents a positive turn, not only in testing, but in education itself.

To begin with, the CLT10 takes advantage of modern technology. Conventional tests like the PSAT call for three to four hours of testing, require weeks of waiting for scores to be determined and released, and then charge students an additional fee to forward their scores to colleges (as if this were a special courtesy on their part, rather than the only reason anyone takes the test in the first place). Our straightforward online interface allows us to significantly reduce testing time (just two hours), and we offer same-day scores which can be sent to any college or university at will for free. Even studying is shorter and less stressful, since, with the curriculum the CLT10 encourages, test prep and standard schoolwork become identical. And best of all, there is no charge to take the CLT10.

At the same time, the CLT10 places good, engaging content front and center. Our focus on classic sourcesthe philosophers, scientists, historians, statesmen, and artists who have shaped our culture and continue to do sois not merely a question of harking back to our past. We have a deeper reason for returning to these great minds. There are certain questions about goodness, truth, and beauty that every person must grapple with, if they want to lead an intellectually fulfilling life; and a life without intellectual fulfillment is less of a life than anyone deserves.

This is why we give priority to great ideas and to the authors who write about them. These authors have endured through centuries of change because they discuss questions of human life and purpose. Ultimately, students must decide for themselves which (if any) of the answers they have learned about are genuinely satisfying; our goal is to give them the tools to make these decisions thoughtfully and responsibly. Trying to be content-neutral does nothing to enrich students’ minds with energy and independence, and shying away from books and authors that deal with great ideas actively impoverishes them. Unbiased intelligence comes from courageously wrestling with ideas, not from avoiding them.

No one can achieve social, political, or personal flourishing, except by means of intelligent and dedicated work in the world in which we find ourselves. The task of education is to produce the intelligence and character that support that kind of work. Fostering that kind of education is what the CLT10 is all about; that is why these high-achieving schools are adopting it, and why it represents a renaissance for the American mind.

The next CLT10 is on April 29, 2020. Learn more here.

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