What Does PSAT Test and How?
The test, PSAT or the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is taken by school students who intend to gain a little practice before they finally appear for the SAT in their senior year of school. The test, PSAT is also known as the NMSQT or the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, and together the College Board and the NMSC (National Merit Scholarship Program) administer the PSAT/NMSQT to help school students prepare and learn about their weaknesses before they take the SAT and/or get themselves a college scholarship. Conducted twice a year in the autumn, usually in the month of the October, the test, PSAT is taken by 8th, 9th, 10th or 11th graders to gauge their college readiness. The NMS program is although open only to 11th graders.
What Does the PSAT Test?
Seen as a tool to learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of a student in terms of his college readiness skills, the test, PSAT is a preliminary way of judging how a student is going to fare on the SAT, and it measures the students' writing, critical reading and math problem-solving skills. With the help of its three components (divided into 5 sections) the test, PSAT is also a scholarship-qualifying test for 11th grade students who intend to join college after their senior year. The practice lent by the PSAT is valuable to junior grade students as this allows them to prepare well for the SAT, which will decide their career path ultimately. The NMSQT or the PSAT is used as a college scholarship competition only for 11th graders and it is mandatory that they perform well on it in order to gain access to scholarship programs.
Unlike the SAT test, PSAT does not have an essay question for its writing component and the math component does not include very high-level of algebra. Nevertheless, it does test skills acquired all through the school years and is an astute indicator of a student’s capability to apply those learnt skills when he/she enters college/university life.
What Is on the PSAT Test?
Like any competitive test, PSAT also requires applicants to register for the test well in time. Conducted twice a year, applicants have ample time to prepare themselves to take the PSAT. A two hours and ten minutes test, PSAT is a paper-pencil test and consists of three components. The Writing Skills component is for 30 minutes and the Critical Reading and Math components are for 25 minutes each. All questions asked are multiple-choice based, but the math component has an additional set of student-response based questions as well.
The Critical Reading component has a total of 48 questions which are divided between 35 critical reading questions and 13 sentence completion questions. Candidates get 25 minutes to complete this component. The Mathematics component has 38 questions based on Numbers and Operation, Algebra, Geometry, Measurement, Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability. In the 25 minutes for this component candidates are expected to answer 28 multiple choice based questions and 10 student-response based questions. The 30 minutes Writing Skills component has 39 questions, with 14 Identifying Sentence errors, 20 Improving Sentences and 5 Improving Paragraph questions. All are multiple choice based questions.
What Do My PSAT Scores Mean?
Like the scores of the SAT test, PSAT scores too hold a certain value, not for college admissions, but for National scholarship programs. The PSAT scores are marked on a scale of 20 to 80, and the final score is out of 240. The final score report contains a Selection Index (sum of the three scores in each test section), which ranges from 60 to 240. This is to help determine eligibility to the NMSC programs. For example, the selection index for 11th graders is 141 on an average. This means a PSAT score of 141 is eligible to compete for scholarships to colleges. The selections index maybe different for different states of the United States.
Even though the PSAT does not directly help students gain entry to colleges and universities, it still should be taken very seriously by students as it is a valuable tool for them to help understand their short comings and prepare well for the SAT. And if they are in their 11th grade, then what better chance to plan and win a national scholarship?
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