How to Become a School Psychologist

A school psychologist is an invaluable asset to any institution that wants a safe and healthy environment for its students and their future. The increase in anxiety and depression rates among children makes it crucial to create systems where qualified professionals assist those who need help. Here’s everything the role entails, including psychologist education requirements, and a step-by-step guide.

What is School Psychology?

School psychologists work closely with teachers, administrators, and parents to help students learn skills that will help them in school or life. These professionals encourage students and support a safe learning environment.

School psychologists are knowledgeable about how children learn and how instructors teach.  As such, they can work with students to accentuate their strengths and improve their weaknesses. What’s more, school psychologists may also contribute to reshaping teaching practices for K-12 schools as well.

What does a School Psychologist do?

School psychologists work with students to manage various behavioral, emotional, and academic issues. They also serve on interdisciplinary teams that address the needs of at-risk learners. Besides, some school districts have implemented new mental health programs for their schools in response to increased demand from parents. Many school psychologists work independently or through consulting other professionals, such as teachers.

Steps to Become a School Psychologist

There are four steps to becoming a school psychologist.

Here’s a step-by-step guide.

1. Complete a degree

A degree in psychology could be all you need to pursue this career path. But, if you’re planning on specializing in children from kindergarten through fifth grade, you’ll also need an undergraduate degree in a related field. While it’s not mandatory, a postgraduate study for educational psychologists can enhance your chances of getting a good gig. 

Additionally, the Ed.S (Education Specialist) qualification is a popular choice for students who want to study education. Specifically, it helps those who don’t have enough time or funding to complete their Master’s degree and need an additional credential to be qualified for higher positions requiring two degrees.

2. Obtain State Licensure

What are the requirements in your state?  While every place has slightly different rules, you’ll need at least 60 credit hours of coursework and over 1,200 supervised training hours before getting licensed.  You also have to take an exam, which might vary depending on the state in which you’ll be working.

3. Secure the Job

Aspiring school psychologists should always be looking for work, even before completing their education and supervision.  This helps build a network of fellow professionals who are in similar positions as yourself that may come through with job opportunities when they arise.  There is no one type of environment where these specialists will find themselves working, so you must keep an open mind about the possibilities.

4. Maintain certification

Getting the job is one thing, but maintaining credentials and staying current in the field is another. Foremost, you must ensure that your school psychologist certification is up-to-date by undertaking continuous professional development activities.  Keeping the certification also means meeting various requirements, which vary with the state. Some states require renewal every 2-5 years, while others only set that requirement if your license expires or is revoked due to disciplinary action. 

However, all of them mandate at least one continuing education course within the first five years for new license applicants.  As a school psychologist, you’ll be in tune with the kids and their parents. You must also possess strong diplomatic skills and compassion for those around you. The rewarding part of this position is that you get to help young people become better versions of themselves, implementing change within your community.

What Does The LSAT Score Mean?

If you’re taking any type of test, whether it’s the LSAT, the MCAT, the SAT, or the ACT, it’s very important to break down the criteria and the curve. Knowing how exactly you are scored puts yourself in a strategically well-placed position to succeed. For the purposes of law school applications, the LSAT scores range from 120-180, but it doesn’t tell a simple story of what questions you got right, and what you got wrong. The LSAT score can be broken down in these categories: The Raw Score, the Scaled Score and the Percentile score. We’ll break down what these mean, and what you can do to set yourself up for acceptance to your top schools. 

Your Score Breakdown 

Raw score – This is simply the number of questions you answered correctly on the test. 

Scaled score – This is the number your raw score is converted to. For example if you correctly answered 65 questions right, that would give you a scaled score of 156. For future reference, use a table to see what your scaled score is for various raw scores. 

Percentile score – This is the famous “LSAT curve.” This number shows how well you did relative compared to other test takers over a 3-year period. Take that same raw score of 65, which is a scaled score of 156, this would mean you’re in the 70th percentile. This curve has minor variations over the years, but for the most part it is relatively stable. If a test is particularly hard, the curve might work for you, in that you’re allowed a few more questions wrong while still obtaining a reasonable scaled score and percentile.

Now, you can figure out what is the minimum amount of questions you need to get right in order to achieve your desired scaled score and percentile. Take note that it’s worthwhile to answer every single question, as every question is worth the same amount. Like any standardized tests, there’s no penalty for guessing. You’ll want to answer all of the easy ones first, save the hardest for last, and guess on the ones you truly don’t know the answer to. 

What do I need to get into my top school? 

If you’re interested in the top 10 law schools, the highest median score for 2021 is Yale Law at 173, and the lowest among the top 10 is University of Michigan at 168. Think about how you can get a score at least in the 95th percentile, then think backward; what scaled score range should I target, and how many minimum questions do I always need to get right? Break down what score you desire, what seems attainable based on your prep, and what schools you want to get into. Test tasking is necessary to measure how well you’ve grasped the material. Not everyone is the best test-taker, but anyone can be strategic and realistic. 

What are some good LSAT Resources? 

Here’s a list of excellent, top rated test prep books: Kaplan’s LSAT Prep Plus, The Princeton Review’s LSAT Premium Prep, The LSAT Trainer, and 10 Actual Official LSAT PrepTests

What’s the best model of practicing? 

The LSAT is a test that takes months of preperation, and daily dedication to practice tests. Yes, ultimately, the best way to prepare for a test like this is practice, practice, practice, however, simply taking tests and tallying results isn’t going to suffice. Do an error analysis. Look at every question you got wrong, and assess what your weaknesses are. What types of questions do you tend to get wrong and why? What can you do to strengthen your ability to answer those types of questions? 

Some people are better test-takers than others. It doesn’t take away from your mental capacity to score well, and your intellect. It’s simply a matter of assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and focusing on the weaknesses, and making them strong. If you don’t consider yourself a great test taker, take as many practice tests as you can and really analyze what you’re getting wrong. Do more of those questions, and understand why the content of those questions confuses you more. Consult online community boards, blogs and journals to help you with strengthening those hard questions. The great thing about standardized tests like the LSAT is that there is always a plan of attack to do your best. There are a myriad of online and offline resources at your disposal to help you get your goal score. It’s just a matter of using them efficiently and consistently.