Changes to the PSAT: The Inside Scoop

Debbie Schwartz SAT Prep Tutor


Road2College founder, Debbie Schwartz, reveals why it makes sense for every student to take the PSAT and what to expect.

Change is in the air. We all know the NEW SAT is on the horizon for the spring of 2016, but what about the NEW PSAT?

The NEW PSAT is officially here and little has been said about this test so far.

The burning questions in people’s minds are:

  1. What will the NEW PSAT look like?
  2. Should everyone take the NEW PSAT?
  3. Should students prep for the NEW PSAT?

Let’s look at these questions one by one.

What will the NEW PSAT look like?

The NEW PSAT will mirror the NEW SAT and have three sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math, but, unlike the NEW SAT, there will be no optional essay.

Since the PSAT is meant to be a “practice” test for students, all the changes the College Board is scheduled to make for the NEW SAT will be incorporated in the NEW PSAT including:

  • No more penalties for guessing
  • No vocab-laden sentence completions
  • More focus on Algebra and less emphasis on Geometry
  • Questions focusing on the interpretation and analysis of tables and graphs
  • An attempt to align questions with the Common Core curriculum

The test will be slightly longer than its previous version—2 hours and 45 minutes, compared to 2 hours and 10 minutes.

To give you an even closer look at the test, the College Board recently released a full-length PSAT practice test.

Should everyone take the PSAT?

According to the College Board, “fewer than half the students who take the SAT are college ready.” By taking the PSAT, students (and educators) can assess their college “readiness” skills, determine areas for improvement, and get a sense of how they can better prepare for the SAT.

An added incentive is the PSAT provides a potential opportunity to secure scholarship money.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation uses PSAT scores to qualify semifinalists who are then considered for the National Merit Scholarship competition. The PSAT has a perfect raw score of 240 and students receiving a score above the cut off (which is determined by each state, each year, after the test is taken) will be considered National Merit semifinalists. With all this in mind, it’s not a surprise that the PSAT is also referred to as the NMSQT: National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

In addition, National Merit recipients and finalists also become eligible for scholarships from corporations, colleges and universities, just based on their PSAT score and National Merit recognition. A student’s recognition as a National Merit Finalist or recipient will open more scholarship opportunities than getting a perfect score on their SAT.

If your child is a junior and is interested in pursuing scholarship money, he or she should take the PSAT.

Should students prep for the NEW PSAT?

If you’re wondering if your child should prepare for the PSAT, it all depends on the student. Some students approach the PSAT as a true practice exam for the SAT. They don’t prep for the PSAT and then use their results to help determine how much and in what areas they may need to work on to get ready for the SAT.

This may or may not be a good strategy depending on how they handle the results. If they do poorly on the test, they may feel like they’re going to do poorly on the NEW SAT and take the ACT out of sheer panic. And if they do well, they may not feel the need to study for the NEW SAT, which is also misguided.

If your child would like to get some PSAT prep in before the test, Testive can help them get there. They can create a FREE account, login and choose the NEW SAT/PSAT toggle switch at the top of the page, and start practicing.

Or, they can sign-up for a 3 – 5 month coaching program and prep for the NEW PSAT and the NEW SAT with the support and guidance of a Testive coach. To sign-up for the coaching program, schedule a call with one of Testive’s student success advisors to see which plan would be best for your child.

new sat test prep

The truth is, no matter how they do on the NEW PSAT, the key to doing well on the NEW SAT—or any standardized test for that matter—is to practice, practice, practice.

Have any more questions about the NEW PSAT, leave them in the comments section below.

Download our FREE eBook – NEW SAT: Everything You Need to Know to have all of this content in one place. You can also watch our pre-recorded webinar The NEW SAT What it Means for YOU & Why it Matters. 

By | 2015-04-23T01:00:26+00:00 April 23rd, 2015|Other Posts|

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