By Whitney Black
On Oct. 24 the freshman through junior classes participated in the PSAT/NMSQT. This stands for Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test and National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This test is a practice run before the SAT, which is a test most colleges require for admission. The freshman took a version called the “PSAT 8/9” which prepares them for the real PSAT. The PSAT is one of the standardized tests taken by sophomores and juniors nationwide. This test is helpful for a variety of reasons, such as SAT prep and National Merit Scholarships.
Counselor Dave McMillan discussed what exactly the PSAT is and how it can be beneficial for those who decide to go to college after high school.
“The PSAT is probably the simplest terms of practice SAT so it is covers the same general content as an SAT and of course an SAT is a test that students who want to go on to a four-year college; it’s required for them to take that for admissions,” McMillan said.
The PSAT is a useful preparation for the real SAT and the possibility of a National Merit Scholarship. McMillan described how all juniors are eligible for the National Merit Scholarship program.
“National Merit scholarship is for the juniors. It is a program that recognizes based on PSAT scores, the top 1 percent of PSAT scores in the nation. Also, besides the national recognition of being a National Merit scholar, there’s also the students in a scholarship competition where they’re also eligible for scholarships but the student’s PSAT score, again, has to be among the top of 1 percent. We have been very fortunate with one because there’s not a lot of schools that have National Merits,” McMillan said.
Two of the students are National Merit commended students, Lucy Mendoza and Mikayla Lindsey. A National Merit semifinalist is Branson Starr.
A merit commended student is a possible semi-finalist to becoming an actual National Merit based scholar. Lindsey described the process of being a commended student.
“Basically they go through like different rounds of choosing, like they pick out of like the first group of students, then pick people who they are in the pool to be a semifinalist and then out of the pool of those students, they pick semi-finalists and then finally the people who aren’t semi-finalists are commended student so that’s why I was up,” Lindsey said.
The PSAT has helped some students by showing them in advance what they should expect on the SAT. Lindsey described how this was helpful for her.
“It just kind of showed me like what it was going to be on the test in the same exact format so it’s kind of like taking one before I took the real one,” Lindsey said.
Format and timing are some of the aspects of the PSAT that students should expect to be the same when they take the SAT. The scores students receive back are also great feedback they can use to better themselves for the real SAT. McMillan discussed more of the benefits.
“Research shows that the more times the students take the PSAT(collegereadiness.collegeboard.org), the better they’re going to do on the SAT and then you’re ready to take that; we offer a lot of dual credit classes and dual-credit classes. There’s use a test called the Accuplacer that students have to test in two hours to take the dual credit. If the students’ PSAT scores are high enough, they can be with their PSAT score for dual-credit so those are probably two of the biggest reasons the other is that,” McMillan said.
The PSAT is useful for formatting, timing and providing valuable feedback. McMillan expanded upon this.
“Once a student takes a PSAT, they get back very valuable feedback from the test on certain skills they need to work on. That not only will help them on standardized tests, but also help them on choosing the proper classes and how could students like prepare for that PSAT for the 10th and 11th graders,” McMillan said.
This test was taken last month and the students should expect to see their scores in January.
Students can use their scores as a guide to help them get ready for the SAT. The next upcoming test date for the SAT is March 9 and the deadline for registration is February 8, 2019. Students can sign up online.