Before you dig into the reasons to take up the PSAT, you should understand it’s significance. On a brief note, the PSAT (Preliminary SAT) is a two-hour test held in October each year. It is also popularly known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Most students appear the PSAT/NMSQT during their junior class so as to prepare for the main SAT in the senior year which is widely accepted as a primary benchmark for college admissions across the United States.
Although you might agree with me that it is not mandatory to take up the PSAT for college admissions, there are some solid reasons which would evoke your interest in the Test.
Prepares you for the SAT
Taking up the PSAT could serve as a good practice for the SAT. Try to refer some practice questions to enhance your test-taking skills which would motivate you to focus on those areas which need improvement. Over the years, many students have opted to sit for the exam more than once and their scores have noticeably gone higher with subsequent attempts. So, as soon as you hit your freshman year, start preparing for the PSAT and take up the Test. The best way is always to stay one jump ahead of the competition. This would boost up your confidence and act as a breather as you move up the ladder to take up the SAT.
Promotes accessibility to various colleges
If you are taking the PSAT, this gives you a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleges and participate in the College Board’s Student Search Service. Being part of such an inexpensive service gives you an overview about unfamiliar institutes and connect to them. Once connected, you would receive institute prospectus and brochures which update you about the different forthcoming events as well as getting acquainted with other activities such as campus visits, interaction with other aspirants etc.
Opportunity to earn scholarships
One compelling reason to take up the PSAT is it qualifies you for scholarship programs and gives you a better insight about the SAT. National Merit Scholarship Program is one such program. Notably, students who appear the Test during their freshman year are likely to get selected to engage in the recognition programs directly related to the actual exam.
A lot depends on your score as well. Based upon it, you may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program(NMSP). As per 2014 statistics, out of 1.5 million aspirants who appeared the PSAT, only 50,000 qualified for the scholarship program. Out of which 34,000 received commendation letters which further came down to 16,000 students who qualified as semi-finalists. Finally, only 7,440 were ultimately through for the National Merit Scholarships.
On a concluding note, I may attest that qualifying for a prestigious scholarship program appears as an onerous task. Nonetheless, the PSAT is one such test which offers an opportunity to every single student to upskill, excel and win a scholarship, regardless of prior academic performance.