Friday, September 16, 2011

Should I Take the PSAT Test? YES!

The fall is normally the time for students to take the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  The PSAT/NMSQT is most often taken by sophomores as a precursor to the SAT.  This test is not mandatory  most school districts.  It measures critical reading, math problem solving, and writing skills.  The test is inexpensive and is a good opportunity for students to obtain an initial gauge on how they may perform on the SAT.  While the test is not directly related to the ACT, the PSAT can also help students prepare for this exam as well.  The test formats are similar as are the areas of skill measured. The primary reason to take the PSAT test is to get feedback about these critical academic areas. Students most often report the score from the SAT and/or ACT on college applications so this is a practice opportunity for students to find out what their strengths and weaknesses may be in the designated skill areas.

The critical reading test is comprised of vocabulary, sentence comprehension, and sentence completion and passage-based questions. The purpose of the vocabulary and sentence comprehension and completion sections is to measure a student's ability to create meaning from the words and clauses in published material.  This is a sign of an active reader.  The passage-based questions measures one's ability to read, evaluate, and interpret reading passages. 

The math concepts tested are number and operations, algebra and functions, geometry and measurement, and probability and statistics.  A scientific or graphing calculator is recommended but not required.  There is a 10 question section within this test that requires a student to solve problems outside of the test booklet and record answers in a special grid in the test booklet.  These 10 problems do not offer any answer selection options like the traditional multiple choice questions.

The writing skills section focuses on one's ability to identify appropriate expressions in standard written English, detect errors in usage and structure, select appropriate revisions to sentences and paragraphs, and recognize appropriate writing strategies.

There is a practice test for the PSAT that accompanies the study guide for the test.  There is also an answer key to help support the scoring of the test.  The best way to get ready for the PSAT/NMSQT test is to take the practice test.  The entire practice test takes about 2 hours.

Call your school's guidance counselor for information, e-mail, or call 609-771-7070.

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