Most schools in October offer the PSAT (a “preliminary” SAT) to their freshman, sophomores, and/or juniors. Regardless of your school’s official testing policy, here are some good reasons why a student should take the PSAT, whose scores are NOT reported to colleges:
- Practice makes perfect. It’s right there in the test’s name: (P)SAT. Preparing for this test is tantamount to preparing for the SAT. And because PSAT tests don’t have the advanced math you encounter on the SAT, it’s an excellent “place” from which to launch yourself toward a goal of complete familiarization over time with every aspect of the SAT. The PSAT is easier than its big sister, the SAT.
- Build confidence. Not so long ago, there were adults who routinely advised students to take this exam cold, without prep. We’ve never advocated that mistake. Would you play on an all-star ball team without having ever practiced with teammates? Hardly. Don’t risk unnecessary damage to your testing ego. Learn content and strategies before you sit for the PSAT.
- Create a valid benchmark. Your October PSAT results can be compared with your December ACT scores; taking these two tests will provide you with an unparalleled answer to the question, “Which test is better for me – SAT or ACT?” The College Board will return your PSAT scores around the same time that you receive back your scores from ACT. There’s no better way to choose between the SAT and ACT than by sitting for the PSAT and an ACT. Seek out preparation for both of these trial balloons.
- It’s a numbers game. As an addendum to #2 above, we can’t stress enough that the “numbers game” inherent in this testing is tied to practice, practice, practice. Implementing sound strategies in a familiar testing environment will have a positive statistical impact on your scores. The historical results from sound preparation prove it.
- NMQST. Finally, the PSAT is a qualifying test for juniors for the National Merit Scholarship. Qualifying in one’s home state (each state has its own cut-off for semi-finalists and finalists) is an honor that colleges really notice. Schools love to announce the fact that some significant percentage of their incoming freshman class has qualified for the National Merit Scholarship. Could you be among them?