Why Taking The PSAT/NMSQT Matters
Why Taking The PSAT/NMSQT MattersWendell D. Hall, Ph.D., Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy, the College Board
This post originally appeared on Forbes.com on September 30, 2015. Read the original here.
Every year, millions of students take the PSAT/NMSQT — the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test — but many students and parents are unaware of the benefits of this exam. As a former high school teacher, I witnessed firsthand how the PSAT/NMSQT is more than just a test you take at school: It opens the door to scholarships, information from colleges, AP classes, and free practice for the SAT.
As this year’s sophomores and juniors get ready to take the PSAT/NMSQT in October, here are five important things to know about the test:
1. It helps students prepare for the new SAT, which, like the PSAT/NMSQT, was recently redesigned to measure the skills and knowledge that matter most for college and career success and to better reflect what students are learning in class. The PSAT/NMSQT is closely aligned, both in content and format, to the new SAT, which will be first administered in March 2016. This means that students will get excellent practice for the new SAT — an important part of the college admission process.
2. Today’s students can take advantage of free practice tools that were not available during my teaching days (though I wish they had been). The College Board and Khan Academy are now offering personalized, online practice for the new SAT at no cost to students. And because the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT are so closely aligned, these tools are useful for both tests. Once students get their PSAT/NMSQT scores, they’ll be able to link them to Khan Academy for additional personalized practice recommendations.
3. It provides valuable information about students’ progress toward college readiness. The PSAT/NMSQT is one in a series of assessments that measure the same skills and knowledge at different grade levels. These assessments are scored on a common scale, so it’s easy to see the progress students are making from year to year. And when teachers have a baseline measurement of academic strengths and weaknesses before students reach 12th grade, they are better equipped to provide the individual support students need to graduate ready to succeed in college and career.
4. It alerts students to their potential to succeed in college-level AP courses. When students receive their PSAT/NMSQT results beginning in December, the score report will let them, their teachers, and their counselors know which specific AP courses are a good match for them. Research shows that all students who take AP Exams are more likely to graduate college on time in four years. And, students who score a 3 or higher on AP Exams can save time and money by earning college credit.
5. It connects students to scholarships. When students take the PSAT/NMSQT, they are automatically screened for the National Merit® Scholarship Program, an academic competition for recognition and scholarships. Students who choose to participate in the Student Search Service are connected with many other scholarship partners, including the American Indian Graduate Center, Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and United Negro College Fund .