Hello and welcome to another ‘College Goers Thursday’.
Like we noted in our post on the subject last week, students applying for higher studies in the US are often seen fretting about the SAT, as the SAT scores to a large extent decide the fate of aspiring students. The SAT becomes even more of a buzzword among college applicant to US colleges around this time of the year and with the next SAT round the corner (on Jun 4th). Keeping this in mind, we covered some quick tips and things to remember for SAT preparation in our college goers’ post last week. However, one thing that we on purpose didn’t bring up is the PSAT or the preliminary SAT. Reason being, that we thought it’d be much better if we dedicated an entire post to it.

So, what is the PSAT? How crucial is it? How it is different from the SAT and what sort of relationship does it have with the test? If these questions, or others, are buzzing in your head, keep reading.

The PSAT or the Preliminary SAT, also known as The National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is a program cosponsored by the College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). It is a standardized test which makes sure to provide you with first hand practice and a strong picture of what to expect from the SAT when you actually sit for it. It is also a great opportunity to enter the NMSC Scholarship programme, and gain access to a variety of college and career planning tools. Please note that you need to be a US CITIZEN, Green Crad holder or have applied for a Green Card to be eligible for the NMSC.

“I am already going to sit for the SAT; why add an extra exam to the list?” is something that might be on your mind. The answer to this is quite simple; it strengthens your readiness for the SAT and also makes sure you are as well-prepared for it as can be. Much like the SAT, the PSAT measures your capacities under three disciplines:
 Critical reading skills
 Math problem-solving skills
 Writing skills

It’s important to remember that the PSAT doesn’t pose questions from any particular class or grade, but tests them on a more wholesome basis. It is mostly a test of the skills versus an examination of the syllabi of the past years.
One should note that there is difference between SAT and PSAT in terms of content, scores,length of the test and many more. Following are some of the listed differences:
1. There are 7 test dates that you can choose from for SAT. There are only 2 test dates for PSAT.
2. SAT consists of 10 section and almost 4 hours of testing. PSAT will only consist of 5 sections and last for almost 3 hours.
3. Other than the Critical Reading, Math, and Writing section, SAT will contain an essay writing section and algebra II concepts also.
4. The PSAT scores are presented on a different scale. Instead of each test being reported on a 200-800 scale, PSAT scores are on a 20-80 scale.

If you are still looking for reasons for appearing for the PSAT or otherwise; here are a few to help you make up your mind:
- You could gauge your performance on an admissions test and do a comparative analysis with others you know who might be applying to the same colleges. Often I have seen international students do this with their first attempt in the SAT however most competitive schools look at all scores so it is not a good idea to use your firts attempt at the SAT to just practise.
-It helps you receive a strong feedback on your strengths and weaknesses necessary for college studies, even before you have taken the actual admissions test i.e. SAT. You could delegate your focus to the specified areas accordingly and improve upon them, thus strengthening your overall approach to the SAT.
- It would help you become a part of the competition from NMSC (Grade11) and will also mean that you receive information & updates from colleges when you check “yes” to Student Search Service.- If you want to apply to competitive summer programs in the US they often ask for a PSAT or SAT score; you may not be ready to take the SAT but you may be ready to take the PSAT
The PSAT isn’t compulsory, but it is quite evident that there are more pros associated with it than cons. Nothing wrong usually comes out of being a little ‘extra’ prepared. Therefore, we recommend to all of you considering college admissions or sitting the SAT to take the test; for your own benefit! Happy studying!