What to Know about the PSAT

Most 11th graders will take the PSAT in October

What is this test?
A slightly easier version of the SAT, the PSAT provides a snapshot of where students are now, with minimal or no studying. It’s good practice, introducing them to what’s on the SAT and getting them used to taking standardized tests.

Who takes it?
In October, most schools administer the PSAT/NMSQT to 11th, and sometimes 10th graders. (Check with your school to see which grades are eligible.) This year’s in-school administration date is October 13.

Do students need to prepare?
Since colleges don’t see these scores (unless they’re requested as part of a scholarship application–see below), studying isn’t required. Instead, think of the PSAT as giving you information about where your student stands and what to focus on as they prep for the actual SAT.

What about National Merit Scholarships?
The eleventh grade PSAT/NMSQT is used to select students for entry into the National Merit Scholarship Program. Note that the program is extremely competitive—and the financial aid awarded is relatively small. In general, we feel that for most students, the scholarship isn’t a significant reason to stress about the test.