From the College Board:  An Integrated System

“The redesigned SAT will be the anchor of a system of assessments that are aligned across a continuum of knowledge and skills. The assessments are designed to monitor student growth across grades annually. For the first time, all scores from PSAT™ 8/9, PSAT™ 10, PSAT/NMSQT, and the SAT will be on the same score scale. This will enable students and educators to track student growth toward college and career readiness and identify areas that need strengthening. This feedback will help both students and educators engage in the best possible practice for future exams: rigorous classroom work and instruction.”


Beginning in October, 2015 this new offering will be administered to eighth and ninth graders. (Schools have the option of also offering a Spring administration.) The test will reveal whether students have the optimum skill sets for high school and career success before entering high school. The scores will range from 120-720 for each of the Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing sections.


The PSAT and PSAT/NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Program) contain the same content. The test serves as a gauge of student progress and identifies areas of weakness. Tenth graders may be able to take the test in the spring or fall. The PSAT taken in these two grades utilize a score range of 160-760 for each of the two sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.

ONLY the 11th grade score may used as a factor to determine National Merit (scholarships). That score is computed by adding the two sections together – Evidenced Based Reading/Writing and Math; the cutoff can vary from state to state. If a state’s scores track higher the cutoff will be higher in that state.

Test Prep Recommendations for Grades 8-10

Breakthrough Test Prep is philosophically against any protracted test preparation for the PSAT  8/9. We believe that it it more important focusing on school and keeping grades up. We do,

however recommend our Effective Reading Training Program  which teaches students how to improve reading speed and comprehension and is applicable not only to PSAT reading but to school assignments as well. Also recommended is our extremely popular, PSAT Prep Workshop  which highlights the key strategies of our more protracted SAT preparation. 

What YOUR Junior Needs Most

I often hear the question, “Why PSAT prep as isn’t the SAT the more important exam.” Yes and no. For those students with strong skills and a 10th grade PSAT in the mid-600’s or higher – preparing for this exam would take that student to the merit scholar level. It is recommended that the prep begin the summer before junior year. This way students have the opportunity to truly get a comfort level with the skill tested on the exam as they will not have any other academic commitments getting in their way.

Other students should consider PSAT preparation over the summer for the above reason even more so.  School, sports, yearbook, newspaper and other extracurriculars that consume students’ time will not be factors. doing the bulk of the training over the summer enables the student to truly internalize the strategies and techniques taught. The ideal schedule is to complete most of the program – 6-7 hours in each area – prior to school beginning. Then they can attend every other week once school starts. This allows them to adjust back to the commitments relative to school and still be practicing what was learned over the summer.

As a side note: This is what I hear from practically ALL of my students who began over the summer: “I’m so glad I started sooner than later as there is SO much less pressure in preparing for the SAT (or ACT)!”

Soon before completing the PSAT preparation, Breakthrough will recommend when the student should take the SAT or ACT. Many are ready sooner than later; others may need the time to mature in their cognitive thinking skills. That said, we would recommend that level of student take the exam after the first of the year.

Why BreakThrough Test PSAT Prep for YOUR Junior

The BreakThrough Test Prep SystemTM has been honed through the years, the result of which has been the creation of innovative strategies and techniques to help our students maximize their potential to get the scores they deserve.

That said, BreakThrough Test Prep’s PSAT program does not offer a one size fits all tutorial course. Some students merely need tweaking and others, though bright, need to actually learn efficient reading skills.

Some of the proprietary PSAT techniques developed by BreakThrough Test Prep are:

  • reading in word groups to improve speed and concentration
  • learning an effective method to find the point of a passage (an essential step in improving speed and accuracy)
  • using the Post-it Note technique to aid in keeping focused
  • applying non-mathematical approaches to solve math problems
  • knowing the best foods to eat to improve concentration and focus
  • practicing meditation and or EFT to help minimize anxiety as well as to improve confidence and concentration
  • sharing the 3 mindset concepts mandatory for test-taking success

How Much Tutoring Will MY Junior Require?

Most students will require 6-10 hours in the Evidence-based Reading/Writing and similar in the math. This is determined by the type of learner your teen is, GPA, prior scores, and the responses on the Student Profile Questionnaire. Parents will find out the recommended optimum number of hours during the complimentary Breakthrough Test Prep Strategy Session.