You Got Your PSAT Scores Back – Now What?

Now that PSAT scores are out, some of you might be wondering, “What was the point?” Colleges aren’t going to see your PSAT scores, so why did you even take it at all? Well the PSAT is actually a pretty important test for several reasons. Now that you have your scores back, there are several things you should be doing.

1. Look Into the National Merit Scholarship
The PSAT is the qualification exam for the National Merit Scholarship — it’s a pretty big deal, so if you don’t know what it is, find out! At this point, there isn’t much to do; basically, all you have to do is wait for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to release their cutoff scores to find out whether or not you have a chance at the scholarship (cutoff scores are usually announced at the beginning of senior year). If you’re a sophomore, then you have time to prepare for next year, when you take the PSAT for real.

2. SAT Score Prediction
The PSAT is a good predictor of performance on the SAT. Both tests cover nearly identical material and have nearly identical formats (except that the PSAT is shorter and does not have an essay). Multiplying a PSAT score by 10 will give an approximate SAT score. Now that you have your PSAT scores back, it’s a good time to look at your strengths and weaknesses and decide what kind and how much SAT prep is needed to reach your target score. Fortunately, if you didn’t do so hot, it doesn’t really matter! What does matter is that you have time to prepare for the SAT.

3. Begin Preparation
Continuing the above point, preparation is key to performing well on the SAT. The PSAT was originally designed to be a practice SAT and a predictor of performance on the real thing. Use your PSAT scores to help determine how to prepare for the SAT. Professional test preparation companies like Testmasters offer full classroom courses can help students who need a lot of help, private tutoring focused on specific topics for those who only need help in certain areas, and solutions manuals and practice guides for those who prefer to practice by themselves.

4. Look into Other Scholarships
Depending on your score, some of you can be pretty confident that you will at least be National Merit Semifinalists. If so, then it’s a good idea to begin looking into other kinds of scholarships as well — being a National Merit Semifinalist or Finalist will open a lot of doors. For instance, at Texas A&M University, National Merit Finalists may be able to receive a scholarship that covers their entire tuition for all four years! According to their website, this scholarship might even approach $100,000 for out-of-state students because of the out-of-state tuition waiver! Be sure to check out the schools you want to apply to for potential scholarships!

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5. Examine Trends in Colleges
According to Almanac of Higher Education, the five colleges with the highest number of National Merit Scholars in the incoming class of 2013 were Harvard, Northwestern, the University of Texas at Austin, Yale, and the University of Southern California. Even though colleges don’t request PSAT scores as part of the admissions review process, having a great PSAT score can definitely help your chances of getting into a top-tier school.

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