There are 3 tests that students may take before taking the SAT – PSAT 8/9, the PSAT 10 and the PSAT (also known as the NMSQT – National Merit Scholarship Qualification Test). Let’s understand what each of these are and how do they differ to be a little more ahead in planning undergraduate admissions.
The first one – PSAT 8/9
The PSAT 8/9 is the first test that students may take in the overall suite of tests from the CollegeBoard. As the name suggests the PSAT 8/9 is generally taken by students in their 8th or 9th grade of schooling. The purpose of preparing for the PSAT 8/9 is primarily to get an orientation towards the other tests PSAT and the SAT. However, the PSAT 8/9 percentile scores may give the test-taker a reasonable indication of his/her college and career readiness. The Score however is not going to be a criterion for admissions/scholarships.
The Second – PSAT/NMSQT
The PSAT/NMSQT is the next test that students generally take, in their 10th /11th grade. The test is conducted only on 3 days, which the schools can choose from (Primary Test day – October 11th , Saturday Test day – October 14th and Alternate Test day – October 25th ) in the October month. While the students cannot make the choice between the three dates, the schools can. Most of the schools choose the Primary test day. This test not only helps students prepare further for the final test the SAT, but also acts as a qualification test for the National Merit Scholarship. The competition is fierce and very few (the top percentile scorers) actually qualify for the scholarship. This also tells how important it is to start the preparation as early as in the 8th/9th grade with the PSAT 8/9. (If you are not a U.S Citizen, though you may take the test, you may not be eligible for the scholarship. Also, though the PSAT/NMSQT can be taken any number of times, the score one gets in the test when taken as a junior only, is considered for qualifying for the scholarship).
The Third – PSAT 10
This is an equivalent test to the PSAT/NMSQT, except that this doesn’t qualify the test-takers for a scholarship. It only helps them prepare for the SAT. This is taken by test-takers who miss out on taking the PSAT/NMSQT. This is conducted in the period February–April of the year. Schools choose a date from the ‘testing window’ given by the CollegeBoard.
The Similarities between the tests:
Firstly, all of these tests are taken to know how prepared are the test-takers to score high on the SAT. All these tests have almost the same content being tested. They primarily have Mathematics and English – Reading & Writing being tested. The questions mostly are of multiple choice types. The tests are scored in ranges (ranges differ from test to test). The tests have multiple sections – Reading, Writing, Mathematics (calculator and non-calculator). The different scores that one gets – total score, cross-test scores and section scores are all similarly calculated for all the tests.
The Differences between the tests:
The tests differ in their difficulty levels, durations, number of questions. The PSAT 8/9 is considered to be the easiest, shortest in duration having the least number of questions in comparison with the PSAT and the PSAT 10. The PSAT/NMSQT and the PSAT 10 are of equal duration, number of questions as well as the difficulty level. While the PSAT 8/9 and the PSAT 10 do not help in qualifying for the National Merit Scholarships, the PSAT/NMSQT does.
For a more detailed comparison, one may visit the following:
To kick-start your preparation for the PSAT, you may visit www.fabmarks.com/psat to get FREE access to a lot of e-learning resources – recorded concept videos with text-explanations, practice questions, mini-tests, full-length tests and more.
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