6 Myths about the PSAT

The Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, is a standardized test that often serves as a practice run for the SAT. While it may provide valuable insights into your strengths and weaknesses, there are several myths and misconceptions surrounding the test that may create unnecessary stress and confusion. Let’s debunk some of those myths to help you better understand this test and its role in your educational journey and answer the question: does the PSAT matter?

There are a few myths around the PSAT and your PSAT scores that you should know about

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Myth #1: It’s Just a Practice Test

Although the PSAT is technically a ‘preliminary’ SAT test and is often associated with practicing for the SAT, it’s much more than that! The PSAT is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Programs, which may provide substantial financial assistance for college-bound students. However, it’s also a good opportunity to practice for taking the SAT and help you tailor your test preparation efforts for the future. Think of it as a tool that can guide you. It can serve as a practice test, but it may also provide opportunities and insight into your educational journey.

Myth #2: You Don’t Have to Prepare for the PSAT

While the PSAT might not have the same level of significance as the SAT or ACT in college admissions, preparing for it can significantly impact your performance. Preparation can help you become familiar with the test’s format, content, and pacing, which may lead to improved scores. You can go online and take free PSAT practice tests to help you prepare.

While the PSAT may not be as high-stakes as the SAT, the benefits of preparation extend beyond the score itself, as it sets the stage for more successful test-taking experiences in the future. You may not feel the need to prepare, but it may be worth it if it can lead to potential opportunities like National Merit Scholarships.

Myth #3: If You Take the SAT You Don’t Need To Take the PSAT

It may be believed that the SAT negates the need for the PSAT, but these two tests serve different purposes. As already talked about above, the PSAT helps to prepare you for the SAT. It’s a great way to get comfortable with standardized testing formats. Even if you are leaning towards taking the ACT instead of the SAT, the PSAT can still be valuable.

Both the SAT and ACT share similarities in terms of testing strategies and critical thinking skills. Preparing with the PSAT can help you feel more at ease with standardized tests in general, potentially boosting your confidence and performance on the ACT as well.

Myth #4: Colleges Look at Your PSAT Score

When it comes to college admissions, the focus is primarily on your SAT or ACT scores, not your PSAT score. Most college applications don’t even have a designated space for you to report your PSAT scores. However, there is an exception to this rule. If you are a high-scorer on the PSAT, your school may recognize your achievement by including your name in a list of high-scorers. Colleges are primarily interested in the results of the more comprehensive SAT or ACT exams.

Who DOES see your PSAT scores?:

  • Your High School.
  • National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
  • Some scholarship and recognition programs that you can opt out of.

Myth #5: Your PSAT Scores Don’t Matter

Your scores absolutely matter for the PSAT for a few reasons. One benefit is the potential award by the National Merit Scholarship Program, but you want to take it seriously even if you don’t qualify for the program. Doing well can also set you up for other potential merit scholarships.

Additionally, you can get an accurate picture of how you performed. It can help you better plan how to study for the SAT/ACT and show you were you have AP potential. This self-assessment is valuable in helping you make informed decisions about your academic strengths and interests.

Myth #6: You Don’t Have to Take the Test Seriously

If you are a sophomore or junior, you should consider signing up for the PSAT and spending some time preparing and studying for it. Your scores do matter and have the potential to win you money. Talk to your guidance counselor to find out when the next exam is at your school.

To make the most of the PSAT and National Merit Scholarships, start by discussing with your guidance counselor. They can provide guidance on registration, test dates, and preparation resources available to you.

PSAT is far more than just a practice test. It plays a unique role in your educational journey, offering opportunities for scholarships, early preparation, and valuable insights into your academic abilities. While it may not directly impact college admissions, taking it seriously can have an influence on your future success in standardized testing and beyond.

Check out how your ACT and/or SAT scores affect your college acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool!