Everything You Need to Know About Wednesday’s PSAT

Kylie Totten ’23
EE Sports Editor

Prepare yourselves THS students, it’s PSAT season. It may not be the formal SAT, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important, because the PSAT is great preparation for the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and it’s an opportunity for students to earn scholarships. So what is the PSAT all about, and what can you do to prepare?

The PSAT, or the NMSQT, is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. According to the College Board, it is a timed test that lasts two hours and 45 minutes and is generally taken by sophomores, and sometimes juniors, in high school. Trumbull High is having their first PSAT testing day on Wednesday October 13, 2021. 

PSAT scores are based on two sections, reading/writing and math. The total score is the sum of the two section scores, and there are 139 questions in total (91 reading/writing, 48 math). Scores can range from 320-1520, which is slightly different from the SAT that goes up to 1600. 50th percentile scores (average) are generally around a 1010, while 90th percentile scores are around a 1290. 

The PSAT isn’t looked at by college admissions, but it is a vital tool in studying for the SATs. The SATs are taken junior year, and it’s one of the four main things colleges look at when considering your application, along with grades, extracurriculars and the essay. The questions on the PSAT are very similar to the SAT’s, so it gives students a good idea of which areas they may struggle with and need to work on. The PSAT can also be good for working out test anxiety by giving students the opportunity to prepare for the time limit and testing environment as well as the questions. 

Since it doesn’t impact a college’s decision, the PSAT is generally a low-stakes test unless a student is attempting to win a scholarship. Scholarships are awarded to students in their junior year of high school who scored exceptionally well on the PSATs. 7,500 scholarships are awarded to students all across the United States every year, some worth as much as $2,500. The scholarship program is incredibly competitive, but four Trumbull High Students were recently named semifinalists for the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship Program according to The Trumbull Patch

There are many different studying techniques used for PSAT preparation. Websites like Khan Academy and the College Board offer resources, including practice questions and practice tests. When taking these practice tests, it is important to work on your pacing and to analyze your mistakes afterwards. Pacing allows students to prepare for the time limit on the test, and analyzing mistakes made on practice tests helps students understand where they went wrong and will hopefully help them correct that mistake in the future. 

The PSATs are a great chance for students to grow and learn, they are not meant to overwhelm students or give them unnecessary stress. Trumbull High students have done amazing in previous years, and this year’s class is a great group. Good luck everyone!

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