MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. While students from other schools around the county will take the PSAT this Saturday, students at Westlake High School will have a clear weekend. That's because the school has implemented a policy where the practice exam is taken during the school day. "It's a part of increasing student population in the test," Principal Keith Schenker said. "I've found over the years that Saturday mornings are not very convenient for students." Nick DiPaolo, a guidance counselor at Westlake, said this is the second year the school has given the test during the week. "We've seen about a 30 percent increase in student participation," DiPaolo said. "It's a much more effective method. We've actually had students from other districts request to take it here as opposed to in their town over the weekend," Those districts include students from Pleasantville, Valhalla and Briarcliff Manor school districts. The students arrive to school in the morning and take the test in the gymnasium. The test takes approximately two hours and 45 minutes and occupies periods one through five. The students then proceed to their normal schedule in periods six through nine. One Westlake student said he had a difficult time in his later classes after the practice exam. "I felt really tired and it was tough to concentrate," said Josh Yamuder, a junior. "The teachers are understanding though in the work that they give you," Schenker said students who chose not to take the test were not given any new material in their classes during the exam period so classmates would not get behind or ahead of each other. Overall, Yamuder and Westlake students Marie Abate and Liz Sweeny said they preferred taking the test during school, as opposed to a Saturday morning. "It's tough to be here on a Saturday," Abate said, a junior. "You go through the whole five day week and then having to take the test on Saturday would be like a sixth day of school," Schenker said that after two years, the policy is set at Westlake. "There's no trial period, we're going to keep it this way," Schenker said. "It allows the students to freely use their Saturday's for things like athletics and family obligations and it also cuts out the use of our building on the weekend."
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