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The Preliminary SAT or PSAT is answered by about 3.4 million high school students in their junior and sophomore years nationwide. It doesn’t help in the process of college admissions directly, but it serves as a great primer and prerequisite to the SAT tests and even the ACT as a trial run. Although it isn’t necessary to give the PSAT test before your senior year, it gives students the opportunity to get experience with the SAT…Hence, making them more comfortable when they give the actual SAT a year or two later.

The PSAT is held once a year in October, and the exam fees are usually paid by the schools, so students can give the test for free. Here are the tentative dates on which the PSAT shall be held in 2019-2020 so that you can ask your school counselor about when it will be held at your school :-

PSAT Test Dates 2019-2020

October 16, 2019(Primary Date)
October 19, 2019(Saturday Date)
October 30, 2019(Alternate Date)
October 14, 2020(Primary Date)
October 17, 2020(Saturday Date)
October 28, 2020(Alternate Date)

The PSAT is a two hours and 45 minutes test similar to the SAT with separate math, reading, and English writing sections. It includes evidence-based reading and writing with passage-based questions, tables, graphs, and charts; math problems based upon geometry, trigonometry, and algebra. The maximum a student can score is 1520 on the PSAT.

The most popular reason students take the PSAT, is that it serves as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship.  Students in the top 1% are awarded merit scholarship money which in turn can ease out their financial situation while paying for college in the future. This scholarship competition awards approximately 8200 students annually; and is only applicable for students in their junior year. Sophomores can sit for the PSAT as a trial run. The selection process begins with selecting about 16000 semi-finalists who score in the top one percent of students in their respective states. Finally, 8200 kids are given checks for the merit scholarship.

Another advantage of taking the PSAT is that students receive access to the ‘My College Quickstart’ portal, which serves as a personalized college and career planning kit, irrespective of your PSAT score. It’s available using the access code printed on your score report.

This useful tool provides a child’s information in four sections namely

  • The Online Score Report – it is the score report of the PSAT test taken which allows a student to review each question with correct answers and explanations given.
  • The SAT study plan – it’s a customized plan according to how a student performed on the PSAT test, highlighting areas of improvement.
  • College Matches – the tool creates a starter list of colleges based on your choice of a major and desired location
  • Major subjects and Career matches – the tool matches the major subjects you are compatible with and also suggests a career path given your strengths and personality type.

The PSAT test has numerous advantages, even though it is not necessary for high school students to take it. It serves as a marginal gain for students who are looking to apply to premium colleges around the world, giving them feedback on their preparatory process and confidence. It also gives kids an opportunity to earn financial aid for college fees in the future, given that they score very well. It acts as an important guidepost on college admission journeys, giving students the experience of sitting for the SAT test or ACT test without ruining the actual assessment during a critical period in their senior year.

Thus a good PSAT score does matter if a student wants to attend college and build a brighter future for herself. Hence, just registering and taking the PSAT serves as a whole new experience and advantage irrespective of the score a student gets.

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