Offered each October, the PSAT is a preliminary SAT, used to help prepare students for their college admissions test. Most students take it in 10th grade “as practice” and in 11th grade “for real.” Only 11th grade PSAT scores count toward National Merit Scholarship potential, so rising sophomores should only be concerned about PSAT if:
- They need it for school tracking
- They need a strong score for self-esteem
Rising juniors should be concerned about the PSAT only in the following situations:
- They are in realistic range of National Merit recognition; typically 200 or higher depending on the year. Students will become semi-finalists if they are in the top 1% in their state.
- They are in realistic range of National Achievement (African-American) or National Hispanic scholarships.
- They need it for school tracking or self-esteem.
The PSAT should not be the only preparation for the SAT, as the PSAT lacks the highest-level Math problems, lacks an Essay, and gives slightly more time per question. Our Practice Test sessions for the SAT give a better SAT snapshot score and you get immediate feedback, opposed to scores that come in December.
Colleges don’t see the PSAT score. For admission, they care only about the SAT (or ACT). So Ivy Bound’s mantra is to study (well) for just the SAT or just the ACT. Along the way, you are building your skills for the PSAT and can take it with more confidence. If you additionally want our PSAT help, we can have a tutor add PSAT focus to whatever you’re already doing with Ivy Bound.
The best preparation for the SAT is NOT the PSAT, but the SAT itself. And the second best prep for the SAT is the ACT. Because the ACT is about as close to the SAT as the PSAT is, and because there are abundant study materials for the ACT, when done with a good tutor ACT prep covers almost all aspects of the SAT.
ACT Aspire, is a series of tests that measure students’ knowledge in grades 3 – 10. The tests for grades 9 & 10 are close to the ACT format. They are scaled from 400 – 499, but ACT Aspire provides a conversion table to the ACT’s 0 – 36 scale.
As of now, ACT Aspire is not available to families. Instead, schools sign up a whole class of students. ACT Aspire gives schools a measure of learning at each grade level, but does not do career aptitude. ACT Aspire does not have a National Merit equivalent like the PSAT does.
ACT Aspire has replaced the “PLAN”, which was a practice for the ACT whose report also identified “career interest” areas.
The best preparation for the ACT is not the Aspire, but the ACT itself.