Tag Archives: PSAT

The National Merit Scholarship Program is an annual academic competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which was established in 1955, over 1.5 million students in about 21,000 high schools enter the National Merit Scholarship Program each year, with about 50,000 entrants qualifying for program recognition, and approximately 8,050 outstanding students receiving scholarships valued collectively at over $35 million for college undergraduate study. The primary way students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), almost always in 11th grade. For many students, a shot at scholarship recognition may be the only good reason to sit for the PSAT. After all, the PSAT is not relevant in college admissions, is not exactly a practice SAT, and doesn’t provide test scores early enough in junior year for many students to act on. That said, there are plenty…

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That the SAT changes substantially every ten years or so is not news. College Board’s newest announcement, however, takes the test into entirely new territory: With input from educators and students, College Board is adapting the SAT® Suite of Assessments (SAT, PSAT/NMSQT®, PSAT™ 10, PSAT™ 8/9) to ensure we continue to meet their evolving needs. The digital SAT will allow every student—regardless of where they go to high school—to access opportunities and scholarships. While the SAT is largely optional for college admissions, we want it to be the best possible option for students to show their strengths. Considering that ACT added computer-based testing for international and some school day testing years ago, the idea of a digital entrance exam is hardly novel. But ACT’s experience with unrealistic deadlines and operational challenges suggest we consider College Board’s timeline as more aspirational than assured. Last year, I listed a number of questions…

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The beginning of December can be a very busy time for anyone connected with test prep or college planning.  Why? That’s when students start to get their PSAT scores back and, consequently, when parents get to see their child’s PSAT scores.  For many families, this marks the official beginning of a year or more of test-related angst and pressure. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re a parent who hasn’t yet learned what these scores mean and what your next steps should be, consider these tips to get you through the initial discovery of your child’s PSAT score: Other than for National Merit and related scholarship consideration, your child’s PSAT score means nothing!  In fact, a 10th grader’s PSAT score is not even used for National Merit Scholarship competition.  While the PSAT does offer a useful baseline to predict future SAT performance, it is, for all intents and purposes,…

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This time of year finds us answering a lot of questions about the PSAT, from parents eager to arrange prep to others wondering if their teens should take the the October test at all. And, really, the question deserves consideration. Just about every high school has its juniors, and sometimes even sophomores, sit for the PSAT. Schools have good reason to administer these tests, thanks to the wealth of score data the College Board sends back. But is the test worth any single student’s time? Why take the PSAT? The College Board describes many benefits to taking the PSAT, but only a couple of them seem persuasive. Consider each one: Discover Your AP® Potential BAD IDEA, at least if you are already a junior. By that time, qualified students with access are already enrolled in several AP classes. 10th graders who haven’t already tried AP European or World History might…

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The PSAT/NMSQT serves a number of valuable functions; not only does this test act as the first criterion for National Merit Scholarship recognition, but its scores also offer insight into future SAT results. No, the PSAT is not exactly like the official SAT or even a well-proctored practice SAT, but PSAT scores should give high school juniors a fairly accurate sense of how–in the absence of any other prep, of course–they will score on the SAT. What should we infer, then, from October’s alarmingly low PSAT scores? Anecdotal information has finally been confirmed by College Board, though not in any forum available to the general public. Fortunately, Art Sawyer and his colleagues at Compass Education Group pieced together the fragmented reports available to suss out some alarming conclusions: The number of juniors scoring 1400+ dropped 30%, from 71,000 to less than 50,000. The number of sophomores scoring 1400+ dropped 36%.…

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Everybody knows the old saying, “You reap what you sow.” Just as high school juniors (and some sophomores) take the PSAT in October, so do they receive their scores in December or maybe early January. In some ways, taking the test is the easy part. While there are some good reasons to take the PSAT, the college application is not one of them, since schools won’t use these scores for admissions purposes. This explains why some students–and their parents–might find understanding PSAT scores trickier than answering test questions. To understand the PSAT score report, you must understand both the arbitrary scale and a deceptive similarity to the SAT. PSAT SCALE Anyone who has come up through the American education system understands tests scores on the 1-100 scale or in letter form from A to F. We also grasp the complexities of 4-point GPAs in comparison to 5-point scales. But what…

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