1.) What is the PSAT and how is it different than the SAT? The PSAT is the Preliminary SAT. BCCHS students take the PSAT during mid- October of their sophomore and junior years.
The PSAT has the same two components as the SAT- Evidence- Based Reading and Writing and Math- but has fewer sections of each so is therefore shorter.
There is no 11th grade math on the PSAT. Otherwise, the test questions are the same. There is no essay on the PSAT, as the essay on the SAT is optional.
PSAT questions are all taken from previous SATs.
PSAT is scored form 350- 1520, and SAT is scored from 200-1600.
2.) How does the PSAT prepare a student for the SAT? Practice! This is the main reason why the PSAT is helpful.
Learn the structure of the test.
Experience new types of questions in a timed, formal setting.
Receive percentiles for how the student performed compared to peers nationally, as well as a breakdown of the score, with sub scored for further practice.
3.) Why not start taking the SATs now? The SAT includes 11th grade math and vocabulary. For the majority of students, junior year would be the earliest recommended start. 4.)I heard the PSATs “don’t count”. What are PSAT scores used for? Colleges do not receive PSAT scores. PSAT scores in junior year are considered for the National Merit Scholarship. Many colleges recognize the National Merit winners with scholarships for their institutions.
Occasionally, when standardized testing is required for applications for scholarships or applications to summer programs or other enrichment programs offered by colleges, private organizations, corporations, or unions, they may ask for PSAT results because students have not yet taken the SAT.
5.) Is test prep for the PSAT recommended? The PSAT is “test prep” for the SAT. We do not recommend any significant PSAT prep before the 10th grade PSAT. In September, students will be given a PSAT practice booklet with an instruction manual and practice test. Sophomores should spend time reading and practicing on their own before the PSAT test.
For rising juniors, we recommend the student review their 10th grade results on their College Board account by accessing the results and practice questions by linking their scores to Khan Academy. Students can practice real SAT questions that are part of an individualized, online, and free study plan. We recommend saving significant time and money for preparation for the real SAT and ACT.
6.) How close are PSAT scores to eventual SAT scores? The trajectory of scores from PSAT to SAT is different for every student and difficult to predict or generalize. Most students increase considerably from their 10th grade PSAT scores to their final SAT scores. Preparation for the SAT can help increase scores considerably if the student puts in the time and effort. Of course, test prep should be complementary to a student’s efforts in their class.
7.) What is the ACT? Should students take both? When should a student consider taking the ACT? The ACT is another standardized test that colleges accept in addition to or instead of the SAT. ACT has four sections, English, Math, Reading, and Science, with an additional writing component, with the highest score being a 36.
Some students do better on the ACT. Each student needs to decide what the best test plan is for them. Parents and students should read more about the ACT and decide whether to take both tests or just one, and how best to prepare. We recommend researching both (www.collegeboard.org, www.act.org) and comparing the tests by completing practice sections of each side by side.
8.) How many times can/ should one take the SAT or ACT? Most students take the SAT or ACT twice at a minimum, once in the spring of junior year and again in the fall of senior year. Some will take it a third time (either twice in the spring or twice in the fall) if they are not yet satisfied with scores. Some will take the SAT once and the ACT once and decide which one to take again based on the scores. Each student is different and the number of test dates depends on each individual’s circumstances. Colleges will take the highest score from each SAT sections and combine them for the applicant’s “super score”, even if the highest scores have come from different test dates. Some, but not all, colleges super score the ACT subsections from various test dates. This is why multiple sittings for the test can be beneficial for the student’s final superscore.
9.) When should test prep start? How do we find test prep? This is individual to each student. Typically, we recommend test prep start during junior year. Generally, test prep should be done close to when the SAT or ACT is to be taken. The test prep training will fade without immediate use. BCCHS partners with Kaplan to offer low cost, discounted test prep courses. The right time, setting, and cost of test prep is very personal to the student and family. The student should consider when and where he is going to be most focused and motivated, especially to complete the SAT/ ACT homework outside of the class. There are many free test prep resources available online. Please reach out for suggested resources.
10.) What are the SAT Subject Tests? Are they required? When should students take them? SAT Subject Tests (previously known as SAT IIs) are one hour multiple choice tests specific to course content: History, Math, Sciences, English, Foreign Languages, etc.
Only the most selective colleges require one or two Subject tests. Many colleges do not require these test scores. To find out which colleges require SAT subjects, you should check the application requirements for the college you are considering.
If a student is considering taking an SAT Subject test, the best time is usually right after the student has completed the course. A student can take up to three SAT Subject tests on the same test date. SAT I and SAT Subject tests cannot be taken on the same test date.