The PSAT- Comprehensive Information
What Is PSAT?
The PSAT is the abbreviation for Preliminary SAT. It is also referred to as NMSQT which stands for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The PSAT is a standardized test administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) and the College Board in the United States. However, the test is designed, controlled and offered by the College Board. The scores you obtain in the PSAT are used to assess your eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program. This program is held by the NMSC for funding the students’ education depending upon their merit.
Why Take PSAT?
Themainobjective of the PSAT administration is facilitating students to enter the competition for scholarship programs. The scores you obtain in the PSAT will be sent to the NMSC for the determination of your eligibility. Furthermore, there are other scholarship programs reserved for specified students. They include the National Hispanic Recognition Program (NHRP) which offers scholarships only for bright Hispanic/Latino high school students. In order to be eligible for this scholarship, you must be at least one-quarter Latino/Hispanic. Other scholarship programs include National Scholarship Service (NSSFNS) and the Telluride Association’s scholarship program. You can visit the following link to know more about the eligibility criteria for different scholarship programs that are available.
The PSAT is often taken by students to assess their own skills. It is even taken by students from the seventh or eighth grades. Reportedly, even some sixth grade students take the PSAT. The students from the high school only will be eligible for any of the above mentioned scholarship programs. Hence, all the students of sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth or tenth grades take it especially to assess their performance levels. The PSAT is like a warm-up test for the students preparing for the actual SAT.
PSAT Test Structure and Question Types
The PSAT currently consists of three test sections evaluated for a total score of 240 points. Currently, the PSAT consists of three sections namely, the Math section, the Critical Reading and the Writing Skills sections. It is administered for a total time of two-hours and ten-minutes. Each section is individually evaluated on a score scale of 20-80 points. Hence, that adds up to a total score of 240 points. The PSAT test consists mostly of multiple choice questions. Only in the Math section, the students encounter student-produced responses which require the students to manually enter the solved answers on a grid.
The main difference between the question types of the PSAT and that of the SAT lies in the Math and the writing sections. Unlike in SAT, the Math section of PSAT does not consists of questions from the higher level mathematics and the Writing Skills section of the PSAT does not consist of an essay writing sub-section.
There are almost 1.5 million students entering the competition zone of scholarships through PSAT according to the College Board. Furthermore, the students are then screened for further rounds like the semifinalist and the finalist round. According to the College Board, each year, there would be around 16000 students who get to the final round of the scholarship competition. You can thus imagine the stiff competition you would have to face if you wish to be awarded a scholarship. To be successful requires you to be more dedicated and competent. The time you spend in preparing for the PSAT directly helps you for SAT. PSAT is an easier version of SAT.
If you are just taking the PSAT to understand the pattern so that it helps you for SAT, then be very cautious and analyze the PSAT test paper well. Prepare for it seriously and it would help you while you prepare for SAT.
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