While many students are already familiar with the concept of standardized testing for the purpose of tracking achievement, the PSAT may be the first test they take that has a direct impact on their future. It is an important test for students and schools alike as it gives a good indication of how well students are prepared for college. Understanding what the PSAT is and how it is scored is the first step towards successfully completing the test.
The PSAT is very similar to the SAT, only it is shorter in format. It is typically given to 11th graders and is often mandatory for the entire class. It consists of several different timed sections, each counting for a portion of the students overall score. There are two verbal sections and two math sections, which last 25 minute each. There is also a 30-minute writing section. In this aspect it is similar to the SAT. Many educators believe it is excellent practice for the SAT which students take later in their education career.
The test is scored in two ways. The first is the raw score. This score is a reflection of how many questions were answered correctly versus how many questions were answered incorrectly. The test is also scored via a scale in which the student is given an easier to understand grade.
PSAT scores are not reported to colleges although they are reported to the foundation that determines which students are eligible for national merit scholarships. Taking the test is often most useful for students hoping to understand where their strengths and weaknesses lie in preparation for the SAT.
The PSAT is more than simply another standardized test for students to take. It is an important part of the process for college bound students. Taking PSAT prep courses is a good idea for those hoping to do exceptionally well on the test.