It is almost PSAT time! The PSAT is the Preliminary SAT Test, a standardized test created by College Board, the makers of the SAT test.

The PSAT is given in October to 10th and 11th graders (and 9th at a few schools). It serves two purposes: acquainting students with the type of test they will face with the SAT and ACT, and identifying students who may qualify for National Merit Scholarships. Only the 11th grade score is used to determine National Merit Scholarships.

Every year, the National Merit Corporation awards around 8000 scholarships, each worth between $2000 and $3000, to students who achieve high scores on the PSAT.

Winning a National Merit Scholarship is no easy task, but students who score well may qualify for a number of other scholarships, many sponsored by companies and other organizations.

Scholarships aside, we encourage students to take the PSAT simply as practice and as a bellwether score for the real SAT. A good PSAT score is a great sign for future testing, and a poor score may indicate that it’s worth getting started preparing for the SAT or ACT!

But there are no real consequences of doing badly on the PSAT, and in the end, the colleges make their decisions based on SAT and/or ACT scores. Putting a strong PSAT score on a college application may add a little icing on the cake, but it is no way a requirement.

If your son or daughter is an eleventh grader, the best thing you can do this year is to get them started on SAT/ACT prep even before you get the PSAT score back. Scores don’t often come back until December or later, and waiting to begin until late in the spring of junior year is not a great idea. Feel free to call us and discuss in more depth your child’s specific situation and scores. This process can be confusing, and is the PSAT is only the beginning!  Call us for help!