On Wednesday, October 16th, Warde underclassmen and juniors took the PSAT; The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test. 9th and 10th graders take it to practice for the SAT, and the 11th graders go through for the practice too, as well as a chance for a scholarship.
There are some differences between the PSAT and the SAT. One of the biggest differences is that the SAT has an optional essay section, but the PSAT does not. The PSAT is also slightly easier and has fewer questions.
Over 3.5 million students take the PSAT every year to either become familiar with the layout of the SAT and/or to have a chance at certain scholarships.
Another major difference is that colleges do not look at your PSAT scores, but your SAT scores are seen and your scores as a basis of whether you belong in that school or not.
For juniors, the PSAT is more than just a practice. It is also a chance to win the National Merit Scholarship. The top 1% of 11th-grade PSAT takers become Semifinalists and 7500 of the Semifinalists can win $2500.
About 1.6 million juniors enter the competition every year. It is all administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a privately funded, not-for-profit organization based in Evanston, Illinois. Freshmen and sophomores are not eligible for the National Merit Scholarship.
The importance of taking the PSAT each year is so you can see your growth over time in places you may have had trouble with, or even in places you still need improving on.
The PSAT helps students recognize the places they should work on and the makes it easier to see them by dividing the questions into different parts: Reading, Writing, and Math.
Even though these PSAT scores don’t affect your grades or GPA at all, students are encouraged to try their very best and put in their effort because the work and tracked improvement can help you when you take the SAT.
Advice that teachers and students give is to take your time – even though the PSAT is limited in it, you should read the questions and answers carefully, and choose the best answer. Rushing will not help you in the test in the long run.
When you start taking the PSAT, have an open mind. Even if you can’t answer a question, you shouldn’t get stressed about it. If you leave questions blank or get them wrong, they do not subtract from your score – only the answers that are filled in and correct.
Another piece of advice is that you should keep everything simple, don’t overthink anything. Even though the name “PSAT” can make you feel like this is a huge and scary test, it is actually just a combination of the materials that you have previously learned formed in a way to make students give out their best thinking in figuring out the answers.
Good luck to everyone who took the PSAT and are getting ready for the SAT in the near future.