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[edit section] PSAT and NMSQT

The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a test administered to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in high school modeled after the SAT Reasoning Test. Like the SAT, it features three sections scored on an 80-point scale. It has similar question types and responses and is generally a good indicator of how a student will perform on the SAT.

Many students decide to take this test as underclassmen because it provides them an opportunity to practice for the SAT under real testing conditions. Although it is shorter in length than the SAT and does not include an essay section, it still has mathematics, reading, and writing sections with SAT-style questions. Taking the test also offers the student the ability to understand his or her problem areas and focus on improving them. The College Board actually provides a copy of the test, with your answers and the correct ones, along with explanations. When you take the actual SAT, the score report will not provide nearly the detail available to you on the PSAT score report.

Many students wonder if the PSAT is really that accurate of an indicator of SAT performance - our answer is that the PSAT is probably the single best indicator or prediction of how you will score on the real thing. Even though it is a bit shorter and does not include the essay, the scoring and question types are so similar to the SAT Reasoning Test that many students score within 100 points of the score they received on the PSAT (converted to an SAT Score by multiplying by ten).

In addition to the practice you get by taking the PSAT, you may also qualify for a merit-based scholarship. National Merit Scholarship Corporation hands out thousands of scholarships each and every year to the top-performing juniors on the PSAT (which is known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, or NMSQT). The scholarship eases the burden of college tuition a bit and it is a great piece on any student's resume. In fact, many college admissions officers have priority spots for National Merit scholars!

So, when you study for the SAT, remember to keep the PSAT in mind. It may not be exactly the same test, but there are many benefits associated with a good PSAT score.

[edit section] See Also: Other SAT Articles

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SAT Myths

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Improving Your SAT Score

Why Take the SAT?

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SAT Subject Testing

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