The PSAT is a preliminary SAT - a practice exam for the SAT created by College Board that tests students reading, writing, and math skills.
**Something worth noting is that colleges do not receive any PSAT scores, these exams are for you to really grow academically to see what your strong suits are and what you should be studying to prepare for the SAT.
There are a couple different formats of the PSAT because of the fact that students in different grade levels take these exams, some of which go for the Merit Scholarship. The first PSAT we will discuss is the PSAT 8/9:
First: PSAT 8/9
It is only allowed to be taken by 8th and 9th graders. The difference with this exam(PSAT 8/9) is the length and level of difficulty; rightfully so students in 8th and 9th grade have not learned all the information that an 11th grader has. According to College Board, schools choose when to administer the tests between September and April of their academic year.
Score Ranges: 240-1440
Test Length: 2 hours and 25 minutes
Second: PSAT 10
To be taken by 10th graders. This exam is more difficult and longer than the PSAT 8/9. According to College Board, they administer the PSAT 10 to students in the Spring of their Sophomore year.
Score Ranges: 320-1520
Test Length: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Alongside helping students prepare for the SAT, the second notable benefit is that in preparing and taking the PSAT’s 8/9/10, a student can then be well prepared to take the PSAT/NMSQT. The PSAT/NMSQT is a PSAT exam in which you can take to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. This scholarship is given to those students who score a high PSAT score. According to College board, it is administered to students in the Fall of 10th and 11th grade. Thus, a 10th grader can take either the PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT if they feel they can qualify for the scholarship.
Interesting Fact: "According to 2020 numbers from the College Board, around 5 million students took the PSAT in the 2019-2020 school year. Of those test-takers, around 7,600 were tapped to receive a National Merit $2,500 Scholarship award." (U.S. News Article by Josh Moody)
What are they and why do they matter?
A standardized test, like the SAT, is a test in which all the students taking it are asked to answer the same questions or same level questions. This allows the test to be graded in a "standard" manner so that others, like college admissions, could compare the student's test knowing that they took the same, or same level test. Though us students do not believe that standardized tests are the whole of your application, they are an important factor considering that to apply to some universities, you must take the SAT. Thus, high schools and college board help prepare you with the PSAT.
The SAT is one of the standardized tests created by College Board. Like the PSAT, this test measures a students skills in reading, writing, and math. The SAT is the most widely taken standardized test in America because so many colleges and universities require it to be eligible for admission.
Sending in your scores/Superscoring
You can take the SAT as many times as you would like, and how you submit your scores depends on how the university accepts it. Some universities like Boston University, Harvard, New York University, USC, or University of Miami allow superscoring!
Superscoring is taking your highest scores from both sections of the SAT from any date that you took it. To give you an idea - if you took the SAT twice; the first time you got a 580 in the English portion and 560 in Mathematics. The second time you took it months later you got a 620 in the English and 520 in Mathematics. Certain schools will allow you to combine the second English score with the first Mathematics score to make up a higher score. Universities like the UC’s do not superscore.
When universities do not superscore, you will simply just have to pick whichever score you feel more confident in sending. You send your SAT scores through College Board for a fee of $12. They do have a Rush Report in which you can pay extra to get your scores to the university.
Below is a list of some of the colleges in America that require you, and do not require you to submit SAT scores:
**Keep in mind that most colleges who require the SAT, allow the ACT in its place. Please also recognize that in the midst of the pandemic many schools are now making all tests optional for the students applying in the 2020-2021 year, or removing them from being an admission requirement all together. This list is to primarily showcase that many great colleges in America do not see standardized tests to be a good measure of a students education.
According to the College Board Newsroom, nearly 2.2 million high school students took the SAT this passed academic year (2019-2020). As you can see, this test is widely taken, but studying for it is just as vital. This exam is the "biggest one" in America. Not just because it is taken the most by students, but because it is highly adapted by universities in order to be eligible for acceptance.
Learn about the best resources to achieve a high score by scrolling down and reading our "Preparing for the Tests" section.
The SAT Subject Tests are least required or looked at in comparison to the other tests when applying to a California university, especially. Unlike the SAT that measures your abilities on a more general scale, there are 5 different subject test topics that measure one specific area. SAT Subject tests are most often needed if you are homeschooled or an international student. If you feel strongly in an area that is offered through a test, by all means, take the test!! These subject tests are a chance for you to stand out in your college application.
Below is a list of some of the colleges that do not require Subject Tests, will consider it if submitted, recommend you submit, require it, and will take it in place of you taking the SAT/ACT:
Do Not Require/Optional:
(It is not a definite guarantee that it will highlight your application, but it cannot hinder)
Will Be Considered if Submitted:
Recommend you Submit:
Require you to for Certain Programs:
Will take it in place of you taking the SAT/ACT:
Some colleges do allow you to submit SAT Subject Tests as an "added on bonus"/supplement that they will take into consideration when reviewing your application. Cornell University, Macalester College, Pratt Institute, and Vanderbilt University are some of the few that do this! Visit a bigger list below!
The ACT is another standardized test available to high school students. This test is a competitor of the SAT, primarily because both believe to measure a students skills and readiness for college better than the other. This is why the ACT was initially created. However, the only people who can really conclude this are you - the test takers! Though you do not need to take both, they are both available to take in case you are unsure of which test you can score higher on. If you are comfortable with taking standardized tests then take both and give colleges another reason to admit you!
**Keep in mind that no college in America requires you to take and submit both! These standardized tests are no walk in the park, preparing and studying for them is a handful. If you do not like taking standardized tests, it is in your best interest to look into which test your preferred colleges require, and then focusing on getting the highest score you can!
Below is a list of some of the colleges in America that do not require you to submit ACT scores:
**Keep in mind that a majority of the time, colleges who require the ACT, allow the SAT in its place. Please also recognize that in the midst of the pandemic many schools are now making all tests optional for the students applying in the 2020-2021 year; or removing them from being an admission requirement all together. This list is to primarily showcase that many great colleges in America do not see standardized tests to be a good measure of a students education.
Which one is right for you? Sure, 2.2 million students take the SAT, but just because it is the common choice does not mean it is the choice you should go with.
It is all about which you feel you will do better on, and especially if you are not applying to a specific college program, read this article to find out which test is right for you!
There is definitely no right or wrong way to study. Much like any other tests you and your classmates take, how you prepare to get a high score is individual to you. However, what is important for all test takers to remember is that no matter the outcome, you determine the weight the score has on you. Being proud of your score is just as great of an achievement as getting back up and trying again. Everyone's successes look different.
Here are some great Resources and Tips to prepare:
SAT Subject Tests
And remember to breathe, take breaks, and take care of yourself!
What are they and why do they matter?
A standardized test, like the SAT, is a test in which all the students taking it are asked to answer the same questions or same level questions. This allows the test to be graded in a "standard" manner so that others, like college admissions, could compare the students test knowing that they took the same, or same level test. These tests you take in high school play a big factor in determining your eligibility for admission to a college/university.