The PSAT is more than just a practice test

In many high schools, the PSAT is administered to Sophomores in October. Teen Life Blog writes that the PSAT is more than just a practice test. 

Here is how the typical Sophomore takes the test.

The day before the PSAT, Sophomores are instructed to get a good night’s sleep and eat a good breakfast in the morning.

On test day, they report to their assigned room, spend several hours taking the PSAT and then exiting the room saying variations of…..

“That was terrible.”
“I blew it.”

And then a few weeks later, the scores come out and they find out they were right.

Don’t do it that way!

The PSAT does two important (and valuable) things

First, the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) is also the NMSQT (National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test). Here’s a good blog article, “How To Become A National Merit Semifinalist“.

“Doing poorly on the exam, taken most often by sophomores and juniors, won’t hurt your college admissions chances”, points out Mandee Heller Adler, founder of International College Counselors in Hollywood, Fla. “But doing well on it could mean more money for college—in some cases, a lot more.”

That’s because the PSAT also serves as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test for juniors hoping to be National Merit finalists.
-Money / Family Finance

I have some personal experience with the PSAT with my two high school sons.

The older acquired National Merit Scholar Status and received a $2500 annual award at his college, specifically because of that status. So in his case, the PSAT was worth $10,000. Is that worth “practicing and preparing”? I vote YES!

I didn’t keep track of the collegiate response to the older son’s PSAT, but I did for the younger. A few examples from the mail he received following his PSAT in 2000 and prior to graduation in 2001.


If you treat the PSAT like it doesn’t really matter, like the average high school student treats most homework and tests, then it will not do much for you. To be in the top 1% (what it takes to earn National Merit status), a strategy of “practice and prepare”, can help you get significant money for college.

Toward that end, here is the best place to practice. I say that because the PSAT is the College Board’s test.

Hope this helps.

15 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them.Also 4yrs as proprietor of VirtualMusicOffice.com, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.

Posted in College Prep, Personal experience Tagged with: , , , , ,