The PSAT is not a Practice Test – It’s an Opportunity

You’ve been taking tests the entire time you’ve been in school. It may sometimes seem that school is nothing but moving from one test to the other. There are tests at the end of each section of learning you do in your classes. There are mid-terms. There are finals. Just to add to the mix, occasionally you head into class to find that there is a pop quiz.

Then there is the big test; the SAT. A good score on that test will help you get into a good college. Likely you’ll start preparing for this test and take it in your junior year, senior year, or both if you were unsatisfied with your first score. Preparing for the SAT can take a lot of time and effort. Combine that with all of the other tests that you have to take in the course of your high school career – not to mention all of the other homework, projects, jobs, and extracurricular activities- and you have really busy schedule for the next four years. You may think it is unfair of us to ask you to focus on yet another test, but that is exactly what we are going to do.

A look at the PSAT

PSAT stands for “Preliminary SAT test.” One aspect of the PSAT is that it is very similar in structure to the SAT. There two main reasons to take the test seriously and spend some time on test preparation and study for this test. The first reason is that it is a good way to practice for the SAT test you will take later on. The second reason is the National Merit Scholarship.

PSAT results as practice

Preparing for, studying and taking the PSAT will give you some idea of how the SAT test will go for you. The two tests are structured and scored very similarly. This is your chance to find out if your preparation and study was good enough to get the score you eventually want to get on your SAT. It can help you understand where your preparation was enough and where you need to do more. Preparing for the PSAT will certainly give you an idea of the discipline you will need and the habits you will need to form to do well on the SAT test. The score itself can be a window into the future, giving you an idea of what your SAT score might be if you took the test now.


The acronym “PSAT” is also usually associated with another acronym: “NMSQT.” NMSQT stands for “National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.” So yes, the test is preparation for the SAT, but it is not only preparation. If you do really well, it can qualify you for some very good scholarships. If you have one of the highest scores on your PSAT, you will receive recognition from the scholarship program and become semi-finalists to win the award. Some schools set aside money for National Merit Scholarship finalists. In some cases, the awards can be quite large – possibly covering your tuition costs and maybe even living expenses.

Taking this test, and taking it seriously can have some major payoffs in your future. It’s always good to know if you are on the right track and prepared to take the SAT. While you are at it, why not shoot for some scholarship money?

Is there anything wrong with this page?

Help us improve Peterson's

Your feedback is very important in helping us improve the Peterson's website. Please let us know if you notice anything wrong and we'll do our best to get it fixed right away.