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How is the PSAT Used?

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The PSAT is more than just a preliminary version of the SAT. Administered by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the PSAT is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Your child’s PSAT scores are used for determining eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

This means by doing well on the PSAT, your child can earn money for college. So while colleges don’t consider PSAT scores during the admission process, taking the PSAT seriously can still affect your child’s future and even help determine which colleges you can afford. Keep in mind that only a very small number of students are awarded money, but even receiving the title of National Merit Finalist, Semifinalist or Commended Student can look impressive on college and other scholarship applications.

But in addition to how others use your child’s PSAT scores, there are a few ways your child can use the PSAT to her advantage:

  1. Preparing for the SAT. The PSAT is set up like the SAT, so it’s a good way to practice test taking and help your child become familiar with the format and questions. The scores are also a good indication of how well your child will perform on the SAT, so if her scores are low, she’ll know how much work she needs to do to get better SAT scores. Your child can look over her answers and spend time studying questions she missed. This can help her avoid similar mistakes on the SAT.
  2. Learning about colleges. Shortly after taking the PSAT, your child will begin to receive college brochures from colleges around the country. Perusing these brochures is a great way for your child to begin determining what type of college she’s interested in.
  3. Comparing scores. With the PSAT, your child will learn how well she performs compared to other students currently applying for college admissions. This can be helpful in determining which type of colleges will be a “reach” to get in, and which will be a good match.

Whether your child earns a National Merit Scholarship or not, the PSAT is an important step in the journey to college admissions. Encourage your child to take the test seriously and give it her best shot. Because in the end, how your child uses the PSAT is almost as important as how the PSAT is used.

Test Prep Academy is the premier SAT/ACT services company for high school students. We offer instructional programs and curriculum for students preparing for the PSAT, ACT, and SAT. Learn more about how we help prepare students for the PSAT.

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