About the PSAT
The full name of the test is the “PSAT/NMSQT,” which stands for “Preliminary SAT / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.” As the name suggests, the test serves two purposes: to serve as a warmup for the SAT and to select students for the National Merit Scholarship program.
As with the SAT, the PSAT contains math, critical reading, and writing sections. Unlike the SAT, though, the PSAT doesn’t test material from Algebra II or require the student to write an essay. The PSAT is also much shorter: it lasts 2 hours and 10 minutes, while the SAT lasts 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Students usually take the PSAT in October of their junior year, although some take a practice PSAT in October of their sophomore year. Each section receives a score between 20 and 80, for a maximum combined score of 240. It’s true that students who score well on the PSAT usually score well on the SAT, but due to the differences in length and material, it’s not always easy to predict SAT scores from PSAT scores.
Flagship’s Private PSAT Tutoring
Unless you’re interested in winning a National Merit Scholarship, PSAT prep is really SAT prep. Our talented SAT tutors are also talented PSAT tutors, and they use the same proven methods with their PSAT students as they do with their SAT students. We find that PSAT practice can provide a gentle introduction to the material covered during SAT prep, but we generally keep our eye on the SAT, making sure that students will be able to excel on the more difficult test when the time comes. Over a few months, PSAT prep students meet regularly with their tutors, complete homework assignments, and review key concepts in math and English.
Free Diagnostic and Evaluation. Free Practice Tests.
Before his or her first PSAT tutoring session, each student receives a free diagnostic test. The diagnostic gives the student an introduction to the test. Moreover, based on the results, we formalize an evaluation that identifies the areas need the most help, specifies an optimal prep schedule, and sets specific goals.
The best way to build endurance for the PSAT is to practice taking whole tests, so Flagship continues to offer free PSATs throughout a student's test prep program.
National Merit Scholarships
National Merit Scholarships don’t offer a tremendous amount of money to each recipient, but they are fairly prestigious. The application process has several phases. The fall after students take the PSAT/NMSQT, usually in September of their senior year, about 50,000 receive a commendation, and 16,000 of them are designated “semifinalists.” Those students fill out an application that includes SAT scores, school transcripts, a list of extracurricular activities, and a personal essay. Of the 16,000 semifinalists, roughly 15,000 become finalists and 8,200 receive scholarships. More information is available here.
For any further information about the PSAT, or for a free consultation on how private PSAT tutoring can help you, give us a call. See our Test Prep page for more about what makes Flagship special, or contact us to set up an appointment.