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PSIA Private Schools Interscholastic Association competition
PSIA is an academic competitive program with 19 contest categories for grade 1-8 covering a wide range of disciplines that motivates students to find new excitement in learning, achieve a higher mastery level, and receive recognition/awards for academic excellence. We will be offering formal coaching for events before or after school.
Students whose parents invest time in helping them to prepare are the ones most likely to succeed at PSIA. For students who compete as part of our school team, we require that one parent per household fulfill a volunteer shift on the day of the PSIA meet. Volunteers serve as graders, assistant directors for contests, and general helpers to make the day go smoothly for all involved. Events will run in individual classrooms throughout the school during the day, with awards given in individual classrooms instead of at one ceremony. Be aware your volunteer shift may occur at the same time as one of your children’s events. We will make every effort to accommodate you if possible. PSIA guidelines require at least one parent or guardian be present on the day of the event for each competing child (or family, if more than one child from your household joins our school team).
In general, three students per grade level in 1st – 8th grade may compete in an event. For some events, there is a limit of three students per combined grade levels; visit our website for more specifics about events.
St. Mark’s Competitive Categories include:
- Art Memory: 4th-8th Grade
This activity provides a panoramic picture of international cultural arts history through the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C., as well as Texas art history through museums located across the state. All prints are reproductions of paintings from these galleries. Students are challenged to identify the artist and the work and answer questions about the art and the artists found in the Art Smart Bulletin. Two students advance from each grade
- Calculator Applications: 6th-8th Grade
A thinker’s delight, this 30-minute contest develops mathematical reasoning and knowledge and requires application of problem solving skills toward realistic problems. Any calculator may be used in competition. Two students advance from each grade
- Creative Writing: 1st & 2nd Grade
This event is designed to promote creativity and encourage writing skills at an early age. Using a prompt of several pictures, students have 30 minutes to create an original story based on the pictures. Two students advance from each grade
- Dictionary Skills: 4th-8th Grade
Students use all elements of the dictionary (Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition) in the contest room, as they learn practical techniques for extracting and applying resource information. Two students advance from each grade
- Impromptu Speaking: 7th & 8th Grade
Students are challenged to think quickly and communicate effectively. They organize their thoughts on a topic for three minutes, then speak for five or fewer minutes without notes. Two students advance from each grade
- Listening Skills: 4th-8th Grade
Good listening skills enhance any academic area, and the study materials are useful for all students. Contestants may take notes as they listen to the contest script on CD, and then use these notes as they answer objective test questions in 7 minutes. Two students advance from each grade
- Maps, Graphs, & Charts: 6th-8th Grade
This event is designed to provide students with experience in obtaining information from visual sources, Test include maps, graphs & charts needed to answer multiple choice questions derived from the 2008 or newer editions of the Nystrom Desk Atlas, which students bring to the contest. The grade 6-8 test includes additional questions from general geography and the adopted atlas. Two students advance from each grade
In a comprehensive, multiple choice, 30-minute math test, students are challenged beyond their grade levels in a variety of general math questions, including algebraic equations introduced in grades 6-8. Two students advance from each grade
- Onsite drawing: 6th - 8th Grade
Students observe and draw a still life model consisting of from 4 to 7 objects. Contestants have 45 minutes at the contest site to produce their freehand work of art to be judged by qualified artists/teachers and displayed in an art show during the remainder of the tournament day. Pencil or charcoal is supplied by the contestant. 2 advance from each grade
- Storytelling: 1st - 3rd Grade
Contestants in Storytelling hear a short story of about two-to-three 8 1/2 x 11 pages in length (approximately 1000 to 1200 words). Contestants then retell the story before a required audience and an odd number of judges (one or three) within about 6 minutes. The object is for students to demonstrate their ability to speak before an audience, organize detail, and creatively retell the story that they have just heard. Contestants hear a story that they retell for their audience in their own words. This activity encourages the use of recall and also allows young students to bring their own expression and insight to the story. One student advances from each grade
- Number Sense: 4th & 5th Grade
The contest presents 80 problems requiring the application of four basic operations (+,x,-,÷). Two students advance from each grade
- Ready Writing: 3rd – 6th Grade
A writing prompt will be given and student will plan and write their story on their own paper in the time allotted.
- Spelling: 3rd-8th Grade
As spelling words are pronounced at approximately five words per minute, contestants may either write or print each word. While 25% of the test words come from outside sources, 75% come from the PSIA Spelling List. A different list is published annually for the three grade groups: grades 2/3, grades 4/5, and grades 6-8. All grades compete separately, except grades 7 and 8, which are combined for competition. The spelling contest is designed to give students exposure to a wide variety of vocabulary words. Preparation for this contest should include instruction in the rules of the English language, definitions and root words. In addition to learning to spell proficiently, contestants will learn to write clearly and to properly capitalize words. Two students advance from each grade
- Vocabulary: 6th – 8th Grade
SAT preparation skills, including word usage, reading comprehension, and analogies, are honed through this challenging multiple choice, 30-minute contest. 2 advance from each grade, except for combined grades 7/8. Grade levels 7 and 8 are combined for competition. Grades 5 and 6 are graded separately.
- Prose/ Poetry Interpretation: 4th- 8th Grade
Students select, prepare, and read a literary poetry or prose selection, with introduction, within a six-minute time limit. Presentations are evaluated on aspects of performance, such as appropriateness of selection, introduction, control of presentation, and overall effectiveness. The focus of the contest (poetry versus prose) alternates each year: POETRY IN 2018, PROSE in 2019, POETRY in 2020 etcetera. Two students advance from each grade
- Science: 6th-8th Grade
The contest presents 50 multiple choice problems. Emphasis in science is placed on three main areas: knowledge of scientific fact, understanding of scientific principles, and the ability to think through scientific problems. This last area is a cognitive challenge requiring students to use higher thinking skills in order to arrive at a “solution” or understanding of a problem without previously having been exposed to that particular set of circumstances. Approximately 40% of the 50-itemtest consists of Earth Science questions; 40% of the questions are about Life Science; and about 20%are Physical Science. Some overlapping of these scientific areas may be within the test questions, as well.
- Music Memory: 7th - 8th Grade
Part 1: Contestants learn about the composer and the musical work through their study of Mighty Music Publishing’s Music Memory Student Handbook. Contestants take a 20-item multiple choice test over information found under the titles, “About the Composer” and “About the Music, anywhere within the Student Handbook, with 20% (4 questions) over musical elements that are not necessarily found under these titles.
Part 2: In the contest, grade 3-6 contestants hear 16 segments of the music from the practice CD, then an additional 4 segments of the same music, but from alternate performance versions. Grade 7/8contestants are tested over all 20 pieces, plus they are given 5 additional alternate performance versions of the music, for a total of 25 listening test items.
- Modern Auditory: 7th – 8th Grade
The Modern Oratory contest provides opportunities for students to explore the use of the voice and body in speaking situations; to organize ideas; to prepare and deliver a researched speech; and to develop self-confidence.