Exam gives juniors opportunities for National Merit Scholarships


The PSAT is a test that gives students a general idea of how they will do on the SAT. It is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The PSAT National Test Day for 2014 is Oct. 15. Photo courtesy of Anna Zhou

It is the time of year when high school sophomores and juniors all over the country are preparing for the PSAT.

The PSAT is a “preliminary” SAT. It gives students a general idea of how they will do on the SAT. More notably, the PSAT is the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which determines which students will be eligible for National Merit scholarships.

Contrary to common belief, the PSAT plays no role in college admissions, with the exception of the small number of students that have qualified for National Merit recognition.

Although the PSAT is primarily for juniors, sophomores and freshmen have the option to take it as well.

“For a while I have known about the tests you have to take for college, but I didn’t know how to get started and I figured the PSAT would be a good way. Also, because I’m a sophomore, my scores don’t count so it was good, stress free practice,” sophomore Sarah Sotropa said.

There are many books and websites as well as practice tests available to help students prepare for the PSAT.

“I looked over a few strategies in my weakest area and took two practice tests” junior David Wang said.

Juniors that have scored in the upper 99th percentile will be recognized as National Merit Semifinalists. The majority of the semifinalists will qualify as finalists, which means they are eligible for scholarship money.

“The PSAT is something that is once in a lifetime so it was very important to me. I just tried my best,” junior Cassidy Harris said.

Click here for more information about the PSAT/NMSQT