When you’re in high school, you’re often thinking about getting out of it. You may be thinking about what college you want to go to and what qualifications you need to get accepted. There are important tests along the way that will determine your eligibility so is the PSAT something you should worry about?
In general, colleges do not look at PSAT scores, but they can still affect your chances of earning certain scholarships. Just because universities don’t care about the PSAT scores, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It’s also good practice for future exams that do count.
I know what you’re thinking: Big deal. I’ll save my energy for the SAT. I don’t want to waste my time on a practice test.
However, the PSAT might not be quite the waste of time that you think it is. Keep reading for more information as well as tips for how to do well on both the PSAT and the SAT.
What is the PSAT?
PSAT stands for Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. This is a test given during Jr. high or high school that gauges a student’s level of college readiness (source).
There are actually three different tests that are given, and they earned their name because of the time when the students take the tests (before the official SAT).
This test is taken during the 8th or 9th grade. Students, teachers, and the College Board can use the results as a benchmark to measure how ready the students are for college. This PSAT will give the students feedback on where they need improvement. Taking a PSAT in 8th or 9th grade grants enough time for the students to make changes before they have to take the SAT.
Taking the PSAT 8/9 can help you build confidence. It shows you what to expect on later tests like the PSAT/NMSQT and the SAT. Plus, you might learn something about yourself.
The PSAT can give you a good idea about what career path would be good for you, as well as what courses to take during the upcoming years.
This version of the PSAT is the same as the PSAT/NMSQT but is taken in 10th grade instead of 11th. On top of granting all the same benefits as the PSAT 8/9, the PSAT 10 can also provide you with an opportunity to enroll in scholarships if you opt in to Student Search Services.
Not only is the PSAT 10 great practice for the SAT, but it can get you a free personalized SAT practice sheet too!
This is the big one. It’s the one that can be worth a lot of money and prepare you the most for the SAT. It includes sections on reading, English and language, and math. You can sign up for the test through your school and if you do well, you could win a National Merit Scholarship.
Why is the PSAT Important?
In order to get into college, you need to take a standardized test like the SAT (or ACT in some states). Colleges will review your scores to determine whether or not to accept you.
It’s no joke when we say the SAT has a lot riding on it. As a future college student, you’ll want to do everything you can to get the best possible score when you take this test.
One of the best ways to judge your skills and practice them is to take the PSAT. These tests are very similar to the SAT and can help you prepare.
Since they don’t matter as far as a grade or college credit goes, you don’t have to stress about doing well. If you do get a good score, not only does that tell you you can take the SAT with no problem, but you might also be eligible for $235 million in scholarship money.
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What Scholarships Are Available?
We all love money.
Even if you’re more concerned with passing your classes right now and getting accepted into college, you should spare a few moments to think about how exactly you’re going to pay for your secondary education. Tuition costs thousands of dollars per semester, plus you need to pay rent, buy food, and maybe go on a few cheap dates.
Scholarships are a great way to help pay for school. An organization offers scholarships for academic achievement, sports, ethnicity, service projects, and so much more! The PSAT/NMSQT offers millions of dollars in scholarship awards to promising students every year, and you could be one of them!
These are some of the scholarships offered when you get a high score on the PSAT:
- National Merit Scholarship ($2500)
- Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship (varies)
- College-sponsored Merit Scholarship (varies)
In 2022, the College Board is giving away approximately 7,000 of these scholarships to high-scoring students (source).
If you’re interested, all you have to do is live in the U.S. (or its territories), be currently enrolled in high school (or home school equivalent), and take the PSAT/NMSQT at the proper time (usually a junior year).
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How to Pass Standardized Tests With Flying Colors
Taking tests can be difficult for most of us. The pressure of a timer is always in the back of your mind, taunting you as you stare at the problem on the page. Wouldn’t it be nice to feel completely prepared for a test for once? Here are some ideas that might help:
- Take hard classes:
- If you’re consistently stretching yourself on a regular basis, you are giving your mind good practice at doing hard things.
- There are many online and hard copy PSAT and SAT practice tests. You can also ask your teachers for study meterials.
- Participate in class:
- Be actively involved in your education. Ask questions and answer questions in class. This will help you fill in the blanks in your understanding.
- Answer every question:
- During the test, make sure you fill in every question, even if you’re not sure about the right answer (source).
- Answer easy questions first:
- Because your test is timed, it’s best if you do the questions you know how to do first. Come back to the others if you have time at the end.
Yes, the PSAT is mostly just good practice for the future, but it can also help you pass the SAT and get into the university you want. If you score well enough on the PSAT, you might even win some scholarship money, which will mean less stress later when you’re focusing on getting through college.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.