“If you’re a rising junior, take heed: don’t blow off the PSAT,” says Aristotle Circle expert Pam P. Indeed, there are many advantages to taking the PSAT seriously. Taking the PSAT can help with admissions, financial aid and ultimately SAT scores so it is definitely a test that should only be ignored at your own peril. On the bright side, a little bit of preparation can create a competitive advantage since many students and parents ignore the potential value of the PSAT and choose to only focus on the SATs.
National Merit Scholarship
The National Merit Scholarship is awarded to a select few of the top-scoring PSAT takers. Each year, roughly 1.4 million students take the PSAT and of those, only about 8,000 will receive scholarships. 50,000 test takers will receive recognition for their high scores and 34,000 of these students will receive Letters of Commendation from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which can prove invaluable during the college admissions process. Roughly 16,000 of the top-scoring students become National Merit Semifinalists and half of those win a scholarship of $2,500 or more (larger scholarships can be offered from certain colleges) once their high school records and a personal essay are submitted. Because of the prestige and scholarship potential, doing well on the PSAT should be of paramount importance during a student’s sophomore and/or junior year. To read more about the National Merit Scholarship, check out this previous post and take a look at NationalMerit.org.
There are also other financial awards that can come from knocking the PSAT out of the park. For instance, 5,000 of the highest scoring US students who designate themselves Hispanic or Latino and 150 top scorers from Puerto Rico National Hispanic Recognition Program can receive special awards. Also, the Telluride Association offers scholarships to gifted high school juniors for summer seminars in the humanities and social sciences. Look at this previous post to check out some other financial benefits to doing well on the PSAT.
Practice makes perfect
The PSAT is the Preliminary SAT and as a result, it can be a very useful tool for finding out how well a student will do on the actual SAT. Although the SAT is a bit longer and more difficult than the PSAT, a student can learn how well they will sit for the test. The PSAT tests the same three subjects as does the SAT: reading, math and writing (although PSAT takers do not have to write an essay) and is also created by the same company that creates the SAT, the College Board. As a result, a student’s PSAT score is a good barometer to gauge how well he/she will do on the actual test day. Another clear benefit is that students learn how well they perform while sitting for a two to three hour test. This experience can be invaluable and ensure that students know what they are up against when SAT day finally comes.
Prep with us!
Because of the financial awards, distinctions and practice that the PSAT can provide, it is extremely important for students to take it seriously and prepare in earnest. We recently launched our PSAT/SAT Jumpstart program, which is a perfect way to prepare for both the PSAT and SAT. Peer tutoring is a great way to prepare for standardized tests as students learn better from other students and are generally more engaged. In addition, SAT Peer tutoring brings affordability to what is a traditionally very expensive test prep program.
Here at Aristotle Circle, we also have professional tutors who can help with your test preparation and admission needs. As Aristotle Circle expert Pam P. says, “Spending money for tutoring might seem extravagant, but the payoffs could be significant. Consider the case of one student who prepped hard with a tutor for his PSAT the summer before junior year and became a National Merit Semifinalist and later a Finalist. He won a $40,000-per-year merit scholarship to a big-city university at the top of his list, along with entrée into its honors program and a slick new dorm.” Please contact us about our various test prep options today!