It is PSAT time again.  Here are some highlights of past posts to help with your PSAT Review and National Merit Scholarship information:

1.  PSAT and National Merit Scholarships

The only time the PSAT is more than a practice test is when students are attempting to qualify for National Merit scholarships.  Junior year is the only time PSAT results can qualify a student for the National Merit program.

National Merit scholarships specifically refer to the awards from the National Merit Corporation and its sponsors.  These scholarships tend to be small ($2500).  However, the real money comes from the individual colleges and universities eager to attract top students with offers of full scholarships in many cases.  One’s status as a National Merit finalist may be worth more than the actual scholarship from the National Merit program.

To find out more about more about what it takes to become a finalist and how to review, see the original post How To Earn National Merit Scholarships.

2.  PSAT For Juniors

Junior year is the time the PSAT matters.  First, it is a student’s only opportunity to qualify for National Merit Scholarships; PSAT results from 9th or 10th grade will not be used.  Second, juniors should be preparing to take the SAT, so the PSAT junior year is a trial run or dress rehearsal for the actual SAT.

Here is a two and a half minute video discussing the PSAT for high school juniors.

3.  PSAT for Sophomores & Freshmen

Most high schools encourage 9th and 10th grade students to take the PSAT.  It is a good way to identify top scoring students prior to junior year and it helps students see the type of material they will encounter on the SAT.

Here is a short (1:45) discussion of how the PSAT should be used for sophomores and freshmen:

The PSAT is a useful tool for identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses prior to taking the SAT.    It is a good introduction to test taking in an environment where students don’t need to worry about colleges seeing scores.