The PSAT is given in many counties as early as grade 8 through grade 11. Parents are more mindful of the the 10th grade PSAT and often regard the one to be taken in 11th grade as superfluous. Not so! Learn the purpose of the sophomore PSAT and why the one taken by juniors is so important.

Taking the PSAT as a 10th grader is a great opportunity to experience the exam which is why most schools – both public and private – want their students to take it.

  • I advise parents to have their students take this administration seriously. This does not necessarily mean enrolling in intensive preparation.  It does mean doing the best they can. (I recommend our PSAT Prep Workshop for sophomores. It will give them an ideal overview of the core strategies.)
  • By taking the exam ‘seriously’, you will have a better idea of your teen’s score goal for the SAT and what areas of weakness to focus on for further preparation (ideally begun the summer before junior year).
  • I use 10thgrade PSAT scores to aid in validating the results of the 60 Second ACT vs. SAT Assessment. In examining the scores, I can see areas of weakness and may recommend the student do more outside reading and/or take our Efficient Reading Training  course – an excellent precursor to our ACT and SAT preparation.

The 11th grade PSAT is of course even more important, not only because the student will be taking the SAT and/or ACT that same year, but because the PSAT can help you pay for college!

When I begin working with my rising juniors over the summer, I not only know which is their better exam but also the optimum time to take that exam.

Here are 6 important reasons why juniors should take the PSAT seriously:

  • The PSAT/NMSQT is actually the only variable used to qualify a student for a National Merit Scholarship.The other factors – i.e., enrolled in the appropriate grade – are used to determine eligibility.
  • One of the most important variables for college ranking is the number of National Merit Finalists and Semi-Finalists accepted.Approximately 1.5 million students took the PSAT last year (and this year as well). Based on their scores, 50,000 were eligible for further consideration – 16,000 were selected as semifinalists and ultimately, 15,000 selected as finalists. Usually about half will receive a $2500 National Merit Scholarship. Corporate and college scholarships also are offered. So clearly, even being a Commended scholar will provide students with a clear advantage for colleges wanting to further ensure their higher ranking.
  • At present, there are over 50 colleges and universities offering FULL tuition scholarships to NMS Finalists and partial tuition scholarships to NMS Semi-Finalists. (See more information here)
  • Being a NMS Finalist or Semi-Finalist provides students with a higher advantage than even being valedictorian.Why? With over 36,000 public and private high schools in the country, there is no way to ‘standardize’ grades. And how many star high school athletes are there vs. NMS Finalists and Semi-Finalists? Even a NMS Commendation is a lot rarer!
  • Not particularly brilliant students can score in the NMS range. The score on the PSAT/NMSQT is factored differently than the SAT and ACT. The college entrance exams are based on number of right and incorrect answers. The PSAT score is based on how students did compared to others who took the exam in their same state.
  • It’s easier to become a NMS Finalist or Semi-Finalist than to get in an Ivy-League school. Only .04 students are accepted into an Ivy-League college, compared to a student who only needs to do better than 94% of their (state) peers. This means the student has a 10 times better chance of receiving a National Merit Commendation than going to an Ivy-League college or university.

For rising juniors: There is still enough time this summer to reduce the burden of preparation during the school year. Read the advantages of preparing the the PSAT over the summer/fall.

Call now to schedule your complimentary Test Prep Strategy Session. Find out your teen’s better exam:  SAT or ACT as well as your student’s potential SAT or ACT score goal.

Learn what your student needs to do to achieve that goal. 301.299.4380




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