Hey, Magooshers. Just yesterday I heard the first ‘back to school shopping’ jingle on the radio. That means time is getting short, and pretty soon you’ll be back in class. For you upcoming 10th graders out there, that means one thing: the PSAT.
For about half of American 10th graders, taking the PSAT is a right of passage. On Wednesday, October 19th, 2016, you’ll sit down with all the other 10th graders and take the PSAT. You may already know a little bit about the test, but let’s get the big question out of the way.
So when do I get my scores?
Consider your scores an early holiday gift, because they come out in mid-December. Eight weeks may seem like a long time, but you need to remember that there are a lot of tests to grade. Also, the make-up PSAT is scheduled for Wednesday, November 2nd. That probably has something to do with the delay.
So you take the test, wait eight weeks, and get your scores. It’s now the spring semester of your sophomore year. Now what?
What do I do with my scores?
When you sit down to take the PSAT, checking one little box can make all the difference. Surprisingly enough, that box isn’t a question on the test. On your answer sheet, there’s a survey question about whether or not you want your results to be used as part of the Student Search Service. If you check ‘yes,’ your results get passed along to a variety of scholarship opportunities.
As you may already know, the most important scholarship associated with the PSAT is the National Merit Scholarship. Awarded to 7,400 high school students around the country each year, the National Merit Scholarship nets recipients $2,500. That’s a pretty big chunk of change for just a few hours of your time.
True, becoming a National Merit Scholar is very competitive. That is why along with your results, you learn about a variety of scholarship opportunities chosen JUST FOR YOU. This information is invaluable, as it gives you a good place to start your hunt for college scholarship dollars.
As the PSAT and Advanced Placement Program are both owned by the College Board, included with your PSAT results is a list of AP courses that match your academic strengths. As you receive the scores in December, you have a half-year to research these courses and see which ones would be the best fit for your junior and senior years of high school.
Lastly, and most importantly, your PSAT scores are a solid predictor of your success on the SAT. Consider it the most realistic practice test you’ll ever take. PSAT results are a great foundation to create an SAT study plan based around improving your weaknesses. If you don’t know where to start after receiving your results, read 10 Ways to Improve Your SAT Score.
The PSAT is still a few months away. If you’re thinking about shooting for a National Merit Scholarship, be sure to check out the FREE Khan Academy resources specifically designed to help you do your best on test day.
Just don’t forget to soak up the last few rays of summer while you’re at it. Till next time, Magooshers.
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About Thomas Broderick
Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.
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