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What You Need to Know About the PSAT/NMSQT® Exam

The PSAT/NMSQT® is a great way to assess your ability and prepare for college entrance exams like the SAT® or ACT®. PSAT/NMSQT® stands for Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test®. We’ll simply refer to it as the PSAT in this article. Some high schools even pay for students to take this test, usually in 10th or 11th grade. This is a great opportunity for you to work on college readiness and learn about scholarships. But what do you really need to know about this test? What can you expect to see, how can you best prepare, and what are the benefits of taking this test?

What does the PSAT assess?

The PSAT is designed to measure your abilities in reading, writing, language, and math. There is no specific content knowledge that you need to know to succeed on the test, but rather you should focus on your skills in those subject areas. Critical thinking and reasoning ability are central to this test, as these are skills you will need to be successful in college and in life after high school.

How can I prepare for the PSAT?

You should first review more about what the test requires of you. When you register, you will receive a preparation packet that will provide more information about the test and how you can prepare. Keep in mind that content knowledge is not assessed but rather skills. You should definitely take advantage of free resources to hone your skills in reading, writing, language, and math prior to the test. These include taking practice tests to best prepare yourself. We offer free materials here. You can also find information and resources on the College Board website here.

What should I bring on test day?

On test day, you need to bring a few No. 2 regular pencils (mechanical pencils are not acceptable). It is always a good idea to have at least one extra pencil so you don’t need to move if one breaks. For the math portion of the test, you need to bring an acceptable calculator. A list of acceptable calculators will be provided or explained to you during the registration process. Depending on your school, you may need your student ID number. Finally, you will be asked to provide an email address on the test. This is optional but you should provide your email if you want to receive information about scholarships.

Are there financial benefits of taking the PSAT/NMSQT®?”

The final important thing to know about this test is the scholarship opportunities it can provide. If you decide to provide your email address on the test, you will be put on a list to receive information about scholarships from organizations as they become available. This is something you should consider doing because you may learn about scholarship opportunities through these email messages that you may otherwise not hear about. The College Board partners with many other organizations that help connect students to over $220 million in scholarship money. Anything you can do to increase your chances of getting money for college is worth doing!

In conclusion, the PSAT/NMSQT® exam is a great opportunity for you in several ways. It can help you prepare for the SAT®, and it can help connect you with scholarship opportunities. You should especially take it (and take it seriously) if your school offers it free. Just remember that the test assesses skills, not knowledge, and there are plenty of ways to sharpen your skills for any test. Good luck on your test!

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