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REASONS TO TAKE THE PSAT 


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The PSAT is a two-hour test given once a year in October. Many students take the PSAT, not only as preparation for the SAT taken in senior year and widely used as a major criterion for college admissions, but also to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Competition.

As with the SAT, the PSAT has separate math and verbal sections and a third section testing English grammar. Each subject is scored on a scale of 20 to 80 and these scores are combined to create the National Merit Scholarship selection index.

Almost all students take the PSAT during their junior year, but many students take the PSAT when they are sophomores to get the feel of the test. However, it is only the scores from the PSAT taken in your junior year that are considered for the National Merit Scholarship competition.

This scholarship competition awards approximately 8,200 scholarships annually. The selection process starts with the choosing of National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalists and Commended Scholars. Cutoffs vary from state to state but typically Semi-Finalists score in the top one percent of students in their state and Commended Scholars between the top one to four percent. Most of the approximately 16,000 Semi-Finalists become Finalists, and half of those ultimately receive National Merit Scholarships.

The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are:
  • To receive feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on skills necessary for college study. You can then focus your preparation on those areas that could most benefit from additional study or practice.

  • To see how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college.

  • To enter the competition for scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (grade 11).

  • To help prepare for the SAT. You can become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions you will see on the SAT.

  • To receive information from colleges when you check "yes" to Student Search Service.

My College QuickStart
All students who take the PSAT/NMSQT receive access to My College QuickStart - an easy-to-use, online, personalized college and career planning kit. This useful tool incorporates the responses that you provided when you took the test.

Your information is presented in four main parts:
  • My Online Score Report - an enhanced score report that allows you to review each test question, your answer, and the correct answer with answer explanations.

  • My SAT Study Plan - a customized SAT study plan based on your PSAT/NMSQT test performance, highlighting skills for review and practice.

  • My College Matches - a starter list of colleges based on your state and indicated choice of major.

  • My Major and Career Matches - major and career matches that are compatible with your general interests and personality type.

My College QuickStart is available using the access code printed on your score report, and it can be utilized throughout high school. Score reports are distributed by your school after December.

For information on the PSAT and the National Merit Scholarship Competition consult your high school guidance counselor. For additional information about the PSAT, as well as the SAT, visit www.collegeboard.com.

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