What Time Does University Of Texas Football Play Today PSAT – What is it, and Why is it Important?

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PSAT – What is it, and Why is it Important?

Most people have at least heard of the PSAT, but many don’t know exactly what it is. Is it just SAT training? Do colleges look at PSAT scores? Why does the PSAT even matter, if at all? How is the PSAT related to the SAT? The purpose of this article is to shed some light on what the PSAT is, how it differs from the SAT, and why it’s important to take it just as seriously as the SAT.

The PSAT and SAT are similar exams published by the College Board that are designed to test a student’s ability to think critically. Many people think of the PSAT as the “baby” SAT, which is actually a pretty accurate description. The main differences are:

  1. Length. SAT consists of ten sections and lasts almost four hours (3 hours 45 minutes); The PSAT has five sections and lasts just over two hours (2 hours and 10 minutes).
  2. The content. Both exams test the same subject areas: writing, critical reading, and math, but the writing section of the PSAT does not include an essay section, and the math section of the PSAT does not cover Algebra 2 concepts.
  3. Scoring. The maximum possible score on the SAT is 2400, and each subject area is worth 800 points. The maximum score on the PSAT is 240, with each subject area worth 80 points.
  4. Test Dates. SAT is offered seven times a year; The PSAT is offered once a year, usually in the third week of October. However, there may be more than one test date within that week.
  5. Importance. Both exams are important stepping stones on the way to university admission. Most people are already well aware of the direct role the SAT plays in the college application process, but fewer clearly understand the importance of the PSAT. Many brush the PSAT aside, thinking, “it’s just a practice SAT” or “it doesn’t really count for college” – huge error:

National Merit Scholarship
The PSAT is also known as the National Merit Qualifying Test (NMSKT). As the name suggests, students who do well on the PSAT may qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Awarded to 2,500 students across the United States each year, the National Merit Scholarship is a major honor that can also expand a student’s educational opportunities. Even just being named a National Merit Scholar finalist or semifinalist can be rewarding for a student. Many schools actively reach out to these students through special programs and scholarships not only because it is an indicator of a student’s academic ability, but also because those schools will benefit in rankings if the students choose to attend.

“But many people get perfect scores on the PSAT, so how can my son/daughter compete even if he/she qualifies?” you may ask. A strong PSAT score is only a requirement for qualification – the proverbial foot in the door. A true National Merit Scholar must have a well-rounded set of accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and other qualities to carry him through.

PSAT Barometry
Although only juniors can qualify for a National Merit Scholarship, students can also take the PSAT as a sophomore. Taking it as a sophomore (or even earlier, if mom insists) provides two benefits:

  1. Because the SAT and PSAT are so similar, it is reasonable to say that a student’s performance on the PSAT indicates how well they will do on the SAT. Taking the PSAT early will help students and parents identify weaknesses, assess how much preparation is needed, and decide when to start preparing for the SAT. And since both tests are written by the same people, if a student finds that he or she just doesn’t respond well to college questions, there’s still plenty of time to start taking the ACT instead.
  2. It is important to remember that students only have one chance to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship. Unlike the SAT, if a student scores poorly on the PSAT – that’s it. There is no other chance. It is a good idea to have students take the test as sophomores to see how close their scores are to the cutoff and, again, decide on a plan of action to prepare for the test.

Two tests, one stone
The SAT and PSAT are extremely important tests in slightly different ways. Fortunately for students and parents, the two are very similar. A student who is prepared for the PSAT will also be prepared for the SAT. Prepare early; exercise consistently; and slay both standardized testing Goliaths with ease. Even if a student plans to take the ACT, test prep has many principles that apply to any test, at any age, at any time.

It’s easy to overlook the PSAT in the hurricane of information that surrounds the college admissions process, so be sure to keep an eye on this small but extremely important test and nail it before it passes and disappears in the storm.

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