St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School students will participate in various categories of the Private Schools Interscholastic Association Competition. PSIA provides STA students with the opportunity to engage in academic competition with their peers regionally and throughout the state of Texas. PSIA is the most comprehensive academic extracurricular program in America for students in first grades through eighth grade. STA participates in ten areas and with students in 2nd-8th grades. 

PSIA Brochure

Event Descriptions

The Program at a Glance Individual districts determine the number of entries per contest, up to 3 students. Rules for the number of students advancing to State are stated briefly below.

  • Art Memory (4/5 & 6-8): 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, published every other year by TuneIn. The 2021-2023 bulletin will be used this year. 2 advance to State from each combined grade level contest.
  • Calculator Applications (6 - 8): This 30-minute contest develops mathematical reasoning and requires application of problem-solving skills toward realistic problems. Any calculator may be used in competition. Grades 6 through 8 are combined in this contest, with 2 advancing to State.
  • Creative Writing (1 & 2): This event is designed to promote creativity and encourage writing skills at an early age. Using a prompt of 5 pictures, students have 30 minutes to create an original story based on the pictures. 1 student from each grade advances to State.
  • Dictionary Skills (4/5 & 6-8): 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. Combined contests for grades 4/5 & 6-8, with the top 2 advancing from each combined contest to State.
  • Impromptu Speaking (7/8): Students in grades 7 and 8 combined 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. 2 from combined grades advance.
  • Listening (4/5 & 6-8): 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. 2 advance to State from each combined grade level contest.
  • Maps, Graphs & Charts (4, 5, 6, 7 & 8): Tests include maps, graphs & charts and multiple-choice questions derived from 2018 or newer editions of the Nystrom Desk Atlas, which students bring to the contest. The grade 6-8 test includes additional atlas, geography, and Texas history questions. 2 from each grade advance to State.
  • Mathematics (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8): 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. 2 from each grade advance, except in grades 2 and 3, whereby only ONE advances.
  • Modern Oratory (7/8): A challenge in writing and speaking, grade 7 & 8 students prepare a short original speech to examine the pros/cons of an issue and defend their points of view, incorporating a variety of skills. Contestants take a stand on only one side of the issue. 2 from the combined grade levels advance to State.
  • Music Memory (3/4, 5/6 & 7/8): Students identify composers and selections from some of the world’s bestknown classics. Contestants hear segments of the music in competition and write the title and composer. Students take a 20-item test over concepts found in the current year’s UIL Passport online program. 2 from each combined grade level advance to State.
  • Number Sense (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8): Contestants find high-speed solutions to math problems in this exciting and challenging 10-minute contest in mental mathematics. 2 from each grade level advance to State.
  • One-Act Play (6 - 8): Students draw upon a wide range of skills as they work together to perform an original or published drama under time and set limitations. 6 schools advance to the State OAP Meet to be held on a date and place to be determine by December.
  • On-Site Drawing (6, 7 & 8): Contestants have 45 minutes to produce a rendering of a still life display (4 to 7 objects) on multi-use drawing paper using any media. Art works are judged by qualified artists and displayed in an art show. 2 from each grade level advance to State.
  • PROSE Interpretation (4, 5, 6 & 7/8): Contestants select, prepare and read a literary PROSE selection within a six-minute time limit. Presentations are evaluated on aspects of performance and overall effectiveness. 2 from grades 4, 5, 6, and combined grades 7/8 advance to State. (Poetry is offered in alternate years).
  • Ready Writing (3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8): This event brings challenge for the gifted writer. Students are given a choice between two prompts. Each prompt defines the audience and provides or implies the purpose for writing. Time limits vary by grade. 2 from each grade advance.
  • Science (6, 7 & 8): Earth, Life and Physical Science information found in current textbooks, plus items from current science publications list, are tested in this 30- minute, multiple choice contest, which usually consists of 50 test questions. 2 from each grade advance.
  • Spelling (2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7/8): As spelling words are pronounced on an audio device, contestants may write or print each word. 25% of the test words come from the outside source dictionary; 75% come from the Spelling List. Different lists are published annually for 3 grade groups: 2-3; 4-5; and 6-8. 2 from each contest advance.
  • Storytelling (1, 2 & 3): Contestants hear a story that they retell before an audience. Presentations are evaluated on aspects of performance and overall effectiveness. 1 from each grade level advances to State.
  • Vocabulary (5, 6 & 7/8): SAT/PSAT preparation skills, including word usage, reading comprehension, and analogies, are honed through this challenging 30-item multiple-choice, 30-minute contest. 2 from each grade 5, 6, and combined 7/8 advance to State.


What is PSIA?
The Private Schools Interscholastic Association (PSIA) extracurricular academic program for elementary and middle schools is a nonprofit education organization offering 61 academic contests for Grades 1-8 in private schools.

Who gets to participate?
Our school may select only a limited number of students at each grade level to be entered in each event, we encourage you to visit with your child about his/her interests and the possibility of qualifying for these events.

Students who are interested in testing to represent STA in up to 2 events should fill out the attached interest form to be eligible for team testing in the following weeks. Please pay attention to your child’s grade level when signing up, as events are grade level specific.

What are the volunteer requirements?
Before students may sign up to take tests to qualify, at least one parent must commit to volunteering in the program. Volunteer opportunities include coaching academic teams, judging, grading, and supervising at the meet.

***PSIA is a parent-driven event, and students will be disqualified if volunteer spots are not filled and present the day of the event.***

When is PSIA: February 24, 2024

When is the PSIA State Competition: April 13, 2024 (University of Houston, Houston, TX)