Taking a Sophomore PSAT: How and Why?

You might have noticed that the PSAT that usually happens in the fall didn’t happen this year. As of now, the rescheduled date is January 26, though actually hosting the test remains at the discretion of your school. If you’ve already been notified about the test happening, that’s great! If not, PrepMatters is hosting a live, virtually proctored PSAT that you can take from the comfort of your own home, using an actual College Board PSAT. You’re welcome to join!

So, that’s the how of taking the test, but why might you want to make time in your busy sophomore schedule to take it? There are several reasons you should give the PSAT your best shot, even if you don’t intend to compete for a National Merit scholarship next year.

Keep in mind, however, that the PSAT doesn’t really “count” for anything. Sure, it’s the qualifying test for a National Merit Scholarship when you’re a junior, but that — by design — affects less than 1% of test-takers. Colleges never see your PSAT scores. Never. You can’t send them even if you try. So the last thing you should do is bomb a test in a class because you were busy preparing for or worrying about the PSAT. That’s not a good trade. You should be thoughtful when you sit down to take the PSAT, but it shouldn’t be too stressful. It’s just not that important in the overall scheme of things.

And some tips from your friendly, neighborhood SAT tutor.

All that being said, if you’ve got some time to kill one night and want to set yourself up to succeed on the PSAT, that’s great. You might already have a practice test that you got in school. Check that out. If you’ve lost it, don’t worry, you can download some more from the College Board website.

Working through a practice test beforehand will help ensure that your scores say more about your abilities and less about your unfamiliarity with the test. As you do so, consider these big-picture strategies:

Best of luck to you on the upcoming PSAT. Stay cool, make good decisions, and start out your standardized testing on the right foot!