9 Reasons Why the PSAT Matters

Most students know about the SAT and work hard to prepare for it.  This week many students will take the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test or PSAT/ NMSQT test. Some of you may be wondering why this test is important.

Here are nine reasons to take the PSAT and why it matters to do well:

  1. The PSAT is the best practice for the SAT. It’s a standardized test made by the College Board, the same company that creates the SAT, and it tests the same three subjects as the SAT: critical reading, math problem-solving, and writing. The kinds of questions and the directions are almost exactly the same as the SAT.
  2. Students get to experience sitting down for a two to three hour test with few breaks. For many, it’s an eye-opener. The real SAT is about an hour and a half longer than the PSAT.
  3. PSAT scores indicate how a student might do on each section on the SAT. Using the test results, students can then focus their test review on the areas and types of questions they need to improve most.
  4. Students and parents can use the scores as a gauge to see what kind of additional study aids or tutoring is needed. Consider poor results as an early warning signal that serious work may be needed to do well on the real SAT.
  5. By taking the PSAT, a student could become a National Merit Scholar. This is a highly prestigious recognition. To participate in the National Merit Scholarship Program, a student needs to score above a certain percentile on the test. The National Merit Scholarship program only accepts scores from the junior year.
  6. Some 8,600 National Merit Scholarships will be awarded in 2020; these awards will have a combined value of more than $41 million. Different types of scholarships will be offered. Click here for more information on the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Competition.
  7. After taking the PSAT, a number of colleges will send brochures and other college-related mail. It’s a good chance to see how schools distinguish themselves and which ones are showing interest.
  8. PSAT scores are not reported to colleges. Students can take the PSAT and not worry that their score will hurt their chances of admission.
  9. Students can see how their performance on the SAT might compare with that of other students throughout the country. This may boost self-esteem/ confidence or be a good dose of reality/ kick in the pants. Almost all high school students take the PSAT during their junior year.  Some students take the PSAT as sophomores and even freshmen to get the feel for the test.

To all students: Good luck on the PSAT!