What is the PSAT?
The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is an assessment made by a U.S. organization called the College Board. It's given in early October for 10th and 11th graders across the U.S. It's a practice or "rehearsal" test, and results are never sent to colleges. It serves as a guide for students on what to study to improve for the SAT, which is required by many colleges.
Where are my scores?
PSAT results will be released online through the College Board the second week in December. Students are notified and their results are in their College Board account or a paper score sheet from Ms. Hatch Blauvelt.
What do scores and percentiles mean?
The PSAT "Understanding Scores" manual provides the best explanation of scoring. See a sample score report here. Percentiles, ranges, and mean (average) scores are generated from past years' data, not this year's PSAT test-takers. Scores range up to 1520 (the SAT ranges up to 1600). The expectation is that students will do as well, if not better, on the SAT than what they score on the PSAT.
What happens with my data?
The College Board sells student PSAT data to U.S. colleges and universities so they can market to students, using whatever email is included on the PSAT. This email and preferences can be changed by logging into the student's College Board account. Marketing materials and emails from colleges are not a strong indicator of admission chances. Colleges put a lot of money, time, and effort into marketing to increase interest and knowledge of their institutions, which will potentially increase the number of applicants, which reduces their acceptance rate, therefore making them appear more selective.
What about National Merit Scholarships?
The National Merit Scholarships are based on junior year PSAT scores but aren't awarded until college attendance. 16,000 Semi-finalists are notified in September of their senior year; 15,000 of those make the next round in February of senior year; and 7,500 will be notified in March of senior year if they earned National Merit Scholarships through the organization itself, other corporations, or colleges. Colleges can choose to adjust awards based on their own policies. Awards generally range from $500 to $2,500 per year.
When should students take the "real" SAT or ACT?
We don't recommend students take the SAT until December of junior year, and our current educational partner Summit Test Prep agrees. This is because the SAT has more material covered in 11th-grade coursework, and it's more important for 10th graders to challenge themselves in classes, build study skills, and stay engaged in our school community. Colleges aren't very impressed with near-perfect test scores if the student hasn't also demonstrated growth, achievement, and involvement in other ways in high school.
What about test-optional schools?
More and more schools, particularly highly selective ones, are establishing test-optional or test-flexible policies. This means more schools are making admission decisions without using test scores. Many higher education experts are finding that these tests only accentuate stress and inequity, and are not strong predictors of success in college. Not all policies are alike so details should be checked on individual college websites, and the majority of schools still require some kind of testing. Most MHS students still take the SAT or ACT at least twice.