The PSAT stands for preliminary SAT. It is good practice for the SAT, which contains the same type of questions. The PSAT tests critical reading, math problem solving, and writing skills.
Your teenager should sit for the PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) exam in sophomore year of high school. The practice exam builds confidence, and gives feedback on areas of strength and weakness which helps when studying for the SAT exam. Scores from the PSAT exam taken in sophomore year do not count for the National Merit Scholarships. Only the scores from junior year count toward National Merit Scholarships. It is also the qualifying test for the National Scholarship Service and National Hispanic Recognition Program. The exam is given at your teen’s high school in October. Check with the high school for the exact date. When your teen fills out the test sheet, he/she should check the box that releases his/her name to colleges. The colleges will begin to send their brochures to your teen.
Why should your teen study for the exam? The better question is, why not? The PSAT exam is very similar to the SAT exam. Both test critical reading, math problem solving, and writing skills. By studying before the PSAT exam your teen has a better chance of scoring well which could lead to qualifying as a National Merit Scholar. A high score will gain the attention of competitive colleges and better the chances of qualifying for a merit scholarship. It also allows your teen an opportunity to determine if the SAT is the appropriate exam to take or whether he/she should concentrate on preparing for the ACT exam.
The best time to study for the exam is the summer between sophomore and junior year of high school. Your teen will have an opportunity to delve into the exam in-depth without the added pressure of school work. There are many different types of study programs available. You will find one-on-one coaches, group programs, and online programs. Additionally, you will find programs offered at colleges and universities as part of a summer scholar program. Prices and quality differ so be diligent when doing your research on the different type of prep programs available. Knowing how your teen studies is an important ingredient in determining which type of program is best suited for your teen.