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When is the PSAT? 2019 Dates and Deadlines
For many students, the PSAT is the first introduction to the CollegeBoard’s suite of standardized tests. It can be an important tool to use during SAT preparations and is individually important in its role as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT).
It’s no wonder that many students begin to think about the PSAT well in advance, wondering when exactly they can expect to take it. In this post, we’ll outline what the PSAT is, when it takes place, and when and how to register for it. Don’t miss this important PSAT information.
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What is the PSAT?
The PSAT is a standardized test developed by the CollegeBoard, who is also responsible for the SAT. Unlike the SAT, the PSAT is made to be taken specifically during the fall of your junior year. While 10th graders sometimes register for the test as advanced prep or practice for the SAT, this is being phased out due to the introduction of the PSAT 10, a test designed specifically for 10th graders.
The PSAT, when taken as an 11th grader, is also used as a determining factor for National Merit Scholarships. Only high scorers on the test advance to further consideration for the scholarships, and even students who don’t achieve a scholarship can gain important recognition as Commended Students or Semifinalists, an achievement that is noted by many admissions committees.
When is the PSAT?
The PSAT is administered annually in October, though the exact date varies from year to year. Each school has a limited amount of freedom in selecting when exactly the PSAT is administered, with a choice between three options set by the CollegeBoard.
For 2019, the dates are as follows:
- Primary Administration Date: Wednesday, October 16
- Alternate Administration Date: Wednesday, October 30
- Saturday Administration Date: Saturday, October 19
Because high schools administer the test individually, rather than designated test centers as is the case for the SAT, there is some wiggle room for selecting the administration date. Most high schools will choose the primary date, as is recommended by the CollegeBoard. Some will administer the test on the alternate date, usually if there is a conflict with the primary date. Finally, some schools will opt to administer the test on a Saturday rather than during the school week.
You do not get to choose when you take the PSAT – you’ll need to take the test when it is administered at your high school, which will be on a single date. If you miss the test at your school, you can still qualify for consideration for a National Merit Scholarship by contacting the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and requesting an alternate test.
When is the Deadline to Register for the PSAT?
Because the PSAT is administered by high schools and not testing centers, registration is slightly different than it is for the regular SAT. In fact, registration is often handled entirely by your high school.
At some high schools, all 11th graders are automatically registered for the PSAT. At others, you’ll need to request to test. In either case, you should always be certain you understand your school’s testing policy, and do so well in advance. Schools can receive a discount on testing materials by ordering them early, so you will want to discuss the PSAT with your counselor early also.
Start with a conversation in May or early June of your 10th grade year. Be sure that your counselor knows you want to take the test, and ask what the process is for registering at your school. Keep in mind that your school’s discounted rates expire at the end of June, and any final adjustments to the number of tests ordered must be made by mid-September.
If your school is not offering the PSAT, you can use the CollegeBoard’s search tool to locate nearby schools that are. You may then contact nearby schools directly to arrange to test with them.
Keep in mind that registration for the PSAT varies from school to school. You will need to register for the test, but the process is done directly with a high school rather than through the CollegeBoard. The test currently costs $16, but sometimes all or part of this cost will be covered by the school. If the cost represents a financial hardship for you, you can apply for a fee waiver.
How to Prepare for the PSAT
The PSAT takes place very early in the big picture of standardized testing for college admissions. While it’s not exactly necessary to prep for the PSAT, if you want to maximize your shot at a National Merit Scholarship and get a head start on SAT prep, you can do a few simple things to help prepare:
1. Use the SAT Question of the Day.
Available through the CollegeBoard’s daily practice app, this is an efficient way to become familiar with the test’s content and format. The app provides hints and answer explanations to make sure you get the most from it.
2. Read broadly and frequently.
Students who read often and read varied texts increase their vocabulary and gain more exposure to different genres of writing. This can only help when it comes time for standardized tests.
3. Take a practice test.
This will help to acclimate you to the style and content of the test, and will ensure that you’re already familiar with the directions and answer sheets before you take the actual test.
Ultimately, the PSAT is not nearly as important as the SAT or ACT when it comes to college admissions, but it’s not something to brush off entirely either. In fact, your PSAT score report can provide tons of important information and insights to be used as your gear up for the SAT.
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