Monday, December 7, 2009

PSAT Results Are On Their Way ... Juniors (Are you a National Merit Semi-Finalist?)

 Blogged by College Explorations from Nancy Griesemer and Lauren Kahn from Lone Star Ed Consulting

High school sophomores and juniors who took the PSAT last October should be receiving their results any day now. According to the College Board, the tests have already been scored, analyzed, and are making their way to high school mailboxes this very minute.

And this is great news, because unlike any other service provided by our friends in Princeton, the PSAT offers an amazing amount of FREE information and advice all packaged together in the materials test-takers automatically receive. So whatever you do, don’t trash the packet!

If you’re worried about test results, keep in mind that the “P” in PSAT stands for “preliminary” not “predictive.” These scores do not predict how well you will do in college and they certainly say very little about how good a student you are. They represent a single snapshot in time and sometimes that picture is neither flattering nor accurate. So, do not ascribe too much value to the scores alone.

Also, be aware that colleges do not use these scores in the admissions process. Unless you happen to score in the very highest percentile of test-takers, the test results have no usefulness to anyone but you, and they will never be reported to colleges.

So what is good about taking the PSAT?

1) Going back to what was suggested earlier, the College Board invested considerable time, thought, and money into developing a package of materials to be presented along with scores. And it’s all provided FREE of charge to test-takers only.

First, every student who takes the PSAT receives an actual copy of the test booklet along with a complete Score Report containing the correct answer, your answer, and the level of difficulty for each question on the test. This information is key to pinpointing test-taking strengths and weaknesses, and you really should go over your results carefully.

As part of the Score Report you will also receive personalized feedback on academic skills and will be directed to two or three areas that might need some improvement as indicated by your answers on the test. If you’re thinking about signing up for an SAT prep class, this information can be extremely helpful in determining what kind of program or intensity level would be best for you.

2) You might actually be able to earn some scholarship money from your test results.
Juniors (Are you a National Merit Semi-Finalist?) Information from

Of the 1.5 million entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores (critical reading + mathematics + writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit® Scholarship Program. In April following the fall test administration, high-scoring participants from every state are invited to name two colleges or universities to which they would like to be referred by NMSC. In September, these high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as either a Commended Student or Semifinalist.

To qualify for the National Merit Semi-Finalist program, you need to meet the following qualifications:
  1. take the PSAT/NMSQT® in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern; score in the top 1% of all students taking the PSAT during the particular year entering in the program.
  2. be enrolled as a high school student, progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to enroll full time in college no later than the fall following completion of high school; and
  3. be a citizen of the United States; or be a U.S. lawful permanent resident (or have applied for permanent residence, the application for which has not been denied) and intend to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law.

Did you miss taking the PSAT as a junior? Guess what, you can still enter the competition. See below.

A student who does not take the PSAT/NMSQT because of illness, an emergency, or other extenuating circumstance, but meets all other requirements for NMSC program participation, may still be able to enter the competitions. The student or a school official must write to NMSC as soon as possible after the PSAT/NMSQT administration to request information about procedures for entry to NMSC competitions by alternate testing. The earlier NMSC receives the written request, the greater the student's opportunities for meeting alternate entry requirements. To be considered, a request must be postmarked no later than March 1 following the PSAT/NMSQT administration that was missed. NMSC will provide alternate entry materials including an entry form that requires the signature of a school official.

 The information was provided by Lauren Kahn, CEO of Lone Star Ed Consulting. If you would like more information about Lone Star Ed Consulting's college planning services, please e-mail Lauren Kahn or call her at 512-294-6608. You can also view LSEDC's brochure here.

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