The PSAT is used by the National Merit Program to award its scholarships and commendations to seniors. It is very important for juniors to take this exam if they want to be considered for these scholarships.The P is for Preliminary, not Practice. Many students think it is merely "practice" and that they will automatically be considered for scholarships by taking the SAT later.
The Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a co-sponsored program by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). PSAT/NMSQT stands for PRELIMINARY SAT/NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP QUALIFYING TEST. It's a standardized test that provides first-hand practice for the SAT Reasoning Test. It also gives you a CHANCE TO ENTER NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP CORPORATION (NMSC) SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMS.
The PSAT/NMSQT measures:
- Reading test
- Writing and Language test
- Math test
You have developed these skills over many years, both in and out of school. This test doesn't require you to recall specific facts from your classes.
The most common reasons for taking the PSAT/NMSQT are:
- To see how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college.
- To enter the competition for scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
- To help prepare for the SAT. You can become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions you will see on the SAT.
- To receive information from colleges when you check "yes" to Student Search Service.
YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY TAKE THE PSAT/NMSQT IN YOUR JUNIOR YEAR.
Many students benefit by taking it earlier, typically in their sophomore year. Sophomores will be provided with a sophomore percentile so that they can compare their performance to other sophomores who are also planning on going to college. If you take it earlier, recognize that the PSAT/NMSQT is a junior-level test, so don't get discouraged if your score is low. Your score will usually increase as your years of study increase. If younger students focus on the skills, not the score, they can work to improve those skills. This will help improve performance in high school, as well as better prepare them for college, the junior-year PSAT/NMSQT, and the SAT. http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/about.html
Here is information from the National Merit website:
Learn more about the importance of the upcoming PSAT/NMSQT. There is more good information about scholarship qualifications on this site.
How to Enter
Students who meet published program entry/participation requirements* enter NMSC competitions by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) at the specified time in the high school program, usually as juniors. Each year's PSAT/NMSQT is the qualifying test designated for entry to a particular year's competitions.