Every year around this time, high school juniors get the chance to compete for opportunities to win some amazing scholarships. The PSAT is actually a student’s ticket to compete for recognition and rewards from individuals and organizations interested in supporting students and education. These sponsors use the PSAT results to find students who EXCEL in life and academics and are worth the investment.
That’s right, the P in PSAT does not stand for PRACTICE (SAT), it stands for PRELIMINARY and is the first taste that a student gets in official standardized testing. The PSAT is, more importantly, the gateway to the National Merit Scholarship Program. By taking the PSAT, students are entering a competition where they will be compared to the other Juniors in their state that took the PSAT and the brightest crayons in the box will be rewarded with awards and scholarships! The only relation the PSAT has to the SAT, other than both being administered by the College Board, is the similar exam format.
The PSAT is only offered once every year, sometime during the month of October. Students register to take this exam through their high school counselors at the beginning of the school year. This exam is almost exactly the same as the SAT, but the PSAT doesn’t have the option to write an essay – it is simply a multiple-choice exam. The exam is approximately 3 hours long broken up as follows:
Section 1: The Reading Test 60 minutes long
Section 2: The Writing and Language Test 35 minutes long
Section 3: The Math Section (no calculator allowed) 25 minutes long
Section 4: The Math Section (calculator allowed) 45 minutes long
The PSAT offers multiple opportunities of recognition for students in order to support the variety of students interested in higher education. Aspiring students come from all types of backgrounds and the College Board works towards providing equal opportunities to all students making the effort.
The College Board National Recognition Programs offer academic recognition to students of certain minority groups, which gives these students exposure, aiding in the advancement of their education. The honors awarded through this program can be added to a student’s resumé to impress colleges and encourage them to enroll the student. They are not scholarship opportunities, but rather a symbol of academic excellence and are intriguing to colleges. If you’re interested in receiving this recognition, be sure to indicate it on your PSAT scantron. If you forgot to include that on your scantron, email the College Board National Recognition Programs at NHRP@scholarshipamerica.org to rectify the situation.
The National Merit®Scholarship Program gives sponsors the opportunity to award scholarships to students who stand out to them. When students take their PSAT, they have the option to sign up for the Student Search Service by selecting the “yes” option. This allows the sponsors to find the students interested in competing for scholarships and sponsors will then evaluate eligible candidates to find winners. Sponsors can range from private organizations or individuals to colleges who are interested in enrolling the most talented students they can to their schools. Some colleges will even offer full scholarships to applicants they really want to be a part of their student body, allowing the colleges to shine bright amongst the others. Be sure to check “yes” to the Student Search Service option if you want a chance to win scholarship recognition!
Hopefully that cleared up some confusion about the PSAT. Good luck to all of the Juniors out there that are taking their PSAT exams today, we hope everything goes well! Awards are announced through the students’ high schools in their Senior year. To all of you sophomores out there, start practicing for next years PSAT now! The sooner you start preparing, the more you’ll grow by this time next year. Check out our PSAT/SAT courses to help you prepare!
Visit the College Board’s website for more information about the College Board’s PSAT!