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PSAT FAQs

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  1. What is the PSAT/NMQST?
  2. When is the PSAT given?
  3. How do I register?
  4. How much does it cost?
  5. How long does it take to get my scores back?
  6. Can I cancel my PSAT Scores?
  7. What if I miss the PSAT Exam?
  8. How many times can I take the PSAT?
  9. What is a good score?
  10. What is a Commended Scholar?
  11. What score is needed to become a Commended Scholar?
  12. Do you receive a scholarship for becoming a Commended Scholar?
  13. Why is Testmasters the best choice for PSAT preparation?
  14. How much high school math do I need before I can start preparing for the PSAT?
  15. When should I start preparing for the PSAT?
  16. Do colleges care about my PSAT?
  17. How do I find out about scholarships?
  18. Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP)
  19. Texas Academy of Math and Sciences (TAMS)
  20. Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY)
  1. What is the PSAT/NMQST?

    The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) or The National Merit Qualifying Scholarship Test (NMSQT) is a test that helps you practice for the SAT. The test also enables you to enter the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) scholarship programs. It is 2 hours and 10 minute and includes the following sections: Critical Reading, Writing, and Math. The Writing section does not include an essay.

  2. When is the PSAT given?

    The PSAT is usually given once a year in the fall around October.

  3. How do I register?

    To register for the PSAT, you have to contact your high school counselor for the test. Make sure you know ahead of time, the date, time and location of the test. Online registration for the PSAT/NMSQT is not available.

  4. How much does it cost?

    To take the PSAT, there is a $12 charge; however, sometimes schools charge an additional fee to cover administrative costs. The costs may vary by school.

  5. How long does it take to get my scores back?

    Score reports are mailed to your high school in December. Each school makes its own decisions on how and when to distribute the scores. Scores are not available via phone or online.

  6. Can I cancel my PSAT Scores?

    If you leave the PSAT before the exam is over, your score is cancelled. However, students should finish the exam because PSAT scores are not sent to colleges.

  7. What if I miss the PSAT Exam?

    If you are a junior and are concerned about taking the PSAT to prepare for the SAT, then you have other options to prepare for the SAT. You can visit your counselor for information on other preparation options. If you are concerned about receiving information about colleges, you can complete the Student Descriptive Questionnaire when you register for the SAT. If you are concerned about National Merit Scholarship, then you can still enter programs conducted by National Merit Scholarship Corporation if you meet other requirements to enter their competitions. For more information on the National Merit Corporation and their programs, please visit www.nationalmerit.org.

  8. How many times can I take the PSAT?

    You can take the PSAT only once a year. The test is given in October every year. Students usually take the PSAT in both 10th and 11th grades. Only your junior year scores will count towards the National Merit Scholarship Program.

  9. What is a good score?

    A good score for the PSAT Exam is the one that enables you to become a National Merit Scholar. The cutoff score varies from year to year and from state to state. To become a National Merit Semifinalist (NMSF), you must score in the top 0.5% in your state on the PSAT. As a general rule, if you score a 217 or better on the PSAT, you should be a strong contender for becoming a National Merit Semifinalist.

  10. What is a Commended Scholar?

    A Commended Scholar means the student was in the top 5% of students in their state.

  11. What score is needed to become a Commended Scholar?

    The cutoff score for Commended Scholar varies from year to year and state to state. To become a Commended Scholar in the state of Texas, the student should generally score 201 or higher.

  12. Do you receive a scholarship for becoming a Commended Scholar?

    No, the Commended Scholar award is given for the prestige involved. It is an achievement to become a Commended Scholar and universities recognize this.

    Each university may offer a scholarship if the student is a Commended Scholar but they do not receive a scholarship from the National Merit Scholar organization.

  13. Why is Testmasters the best choice for PSAT preparation?

    • Testmasters SAT/PSAT Courses offer an intensive program with 12 classes of 3 hours each over 4 - 5 weeks. Testmasters Courses offer unique and extremely effective strategies not taught anywhere else, by highly experienced, dynamic instructors.
    • Highest Score Increase Guarantee - if you do not improve by at least 30 points, then we will provide you with an extra-help course free of charge.
    • All exams administered in class are official College Board SAT Practice exams, which are reflective of PSAT Content. The answers are run through our computer systems to analyze your strengths and weaknesses on the SAT/PSAT.
    • Course materials include our Testmasters SAT Manual with tricks and tips to do well on the SAT and the complete Testmasters produced solutions to each SAT exam from The Official SAT Study Guide: For the New SAT, and a copy of The Official SAT Study Guide: For the New SAT.
    • Tutoring help (in-person or on the phone) is available for students during and after their Testmasters course at a very competitive fee.
    • We offer a $1000 college scholarship to any student who completes our course and receives a perfect score of 2400 on the SAT.
  14. How much high school math do I need before I can start preparing for the PSAT?

    The PSAT math sections cover up to high school geometry. Math section will not include any math questions from Algebra II; however, it is covered in the SAT Exam.

  15. When should I start preparing for the PSAT?

    If you have the goal of becoming a National Merit Semi-finalist, it is best to start by June before 10th grade. Otherwise, a student should start by the summer before the 11th grade.

  16. Do colleges care about my PSAT?

    Although colleges do not consider your PSAT scores for college admissions, they are interested in seeing whether or not you were recognized as a National Merit Scholar or Commended Scholar.

  17. How do I find out about scholarships?

    You can visit www.nationalmerit.org for information on scholarships associated with the PSAT. For other scholarships, visit http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/about/scholarhips.html.

Special Educational Programs For Students

  1. Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP)

    "Duke TIP talent search helps gifted students and their families find out how advanced the students' abilities truly are. Traditional testing often fails to measure the variation among many gifted students who reach the upper limits of scoring on grade-level exams. By taking advanced above-level (at least two years above a student's current grade placement) testing through Duke TIP's talent searches, gifted students and their families gain a far better understanding of where the student stands in relation to his/her gifted peers and what level of educational challenge is appropriate. Taking the SAT or ACT in seventh grade gives students a chance to practice and become familiar with the exams that play a major role in college admissions. Students' early experience with the college entrance exam is helpful in preparing them to take it in high school. All talent search participants receive resources and publications to assist the student's educational growth."

    Excerpt from Duke TIP website. For more information on the Duke TIP Program, visit www.tip.duke.edu.

  2. Texas Academy of Math and Sciences (TAMS)

    "The Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science (TAMS) is a two-year residential early college entrance program serving approximately 400 students at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. It is a member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology. Each year TAMS admits approximately 200 new students gifted in mathematics and science following their 10th grade year of high school. These students are entered into full-time college studies alongside traditional college students and proceed to earn two years of college credit that is transferable in some situations while at the same time completing curriculum to qualify for a high school diploma. Typical TAMS students receive both a high school diploma and more than 60 college credits, allowing them to enter university with enough credit to qualify as a junior. TAMS encourages a strong sense of community and esprit de corps among its students. Class rings, for example, are presented from second-year students to first-year students in a ceremony early in the school year. All students live together in McConnell Hall, a separate dormitory building from the main university population. A limited number of classes are open only to TAMS students."

    Excerpt from TAMS website. For more information on the TAMS Program, visit www.tams.unt.edu.

  3. Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY)

    "The Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY) at Stanford University is a continuing project for developing and offering multimedia computer-based distance-learning courses. This program combines the technical and instructional expertise to provide an individualized educational experience to students of all ages. This program offers courses in different subjects from kindergarten through advanced undergraduate levels. The EPGY Program offers distance-learning courses as well as residential summer programs for ages 5 and older. The EPGY Distance-Learning Courses use the computer as an instructional resource to teach students in a virtual classroom session. The EPGY Summer Programs provide opportunities to students to interact with other students with similar interests and abilities. Students also are provided with opportunities to take course that are not generally offered as part of their curriculum."

    Excerpt from Stanford's EPGY website. For more information, please visit epgy.stanford.edu.



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