Don’t Sleep on the PSAT

You could regret it. 

When most people think of the PSAT, they think of a practice exam.

It’s just preparation for the SAT, so you’ve got plenty of time before you need to worry about actual test prep, right?

Not quite… There are a number of reasons why it’s a good idea to take the PSAT exam seriously, the most obvious of which is that it’s used to qualify for becoming a National Merit Scholarship finalist. In fact, if you are a semi-finalist, you can still go on to be awarded a scholarship if you have significant academic achievement outside of the test. And even if you receive honorable mention as a “Commended Student” you become a much more impressive candidate for various other scholarship opportunities, not to mention a much more attractive applicant overall. Even if you do only look at the PSAT as a practice test, there’s no better way to prepare than to give the exam as much effort and energy as you plan to give the SAT.

The PSAT is shorter and not as difficult as the SAT, and the scores don’t always predict scores on the SAT (although they often do) but learning how to prepare, getting a sense of how the test is laid out, and familiarizing yourself with the kind of material that will be on the SAT, will give you a huge advantage. You don’t have to go crazy preparing either. You can just get an inexpensive (used) copy of a test prep book or take some free practice tests online. The nice thing about the PSAT is that it’s a low pressure opportunity to experiment and find out what works best for you in test prep, so why wouldn’t you take advantage and give it everything you’ve got?

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