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Your College Admissions Testing Myths Answered

We know the college admissions process can be difficult to navigate, but Applerouth is here to help! With its constantly changing landscape, there are many common misconceptions. Our Program Advisors talk to families every day about testing and the admissions process. Many parents come to them with the same questions and myths, so they are here to set the record straight! If you have a question or myth you would like to ask, please submit it here.

Myth: I need to send my PSAT scores to colleges.

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding the PSAT and what the test is used for in the college admissions process. We have a great resource on our website with everything you need to know about the PSAT. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The PSAT is a test administered in October by the College Board (maker of the SAT) that counts as the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Competition. Only the PSAT taken during a student’s junior year counts for the competition. Only students scoring in the top percentile of test takers are invited to continue in the competition.
  • The test is similar in content and format to the SAT. It is a bit shorter and easier than the SAT.
  • PSAT scores are released in December. The test is scored out of 1520, with two section scores (Evidence Based Reading and Writing and Math) scored out of 760.
  • Sometimes students will take the PSAT as 8th, 9th, or 10th graders. For these students, unless their school uses the PSAT for class placement, the PSAT means very little. Students should treat it as an introduction to standardized testing, but there is no need to worry about or do anything with the scores.

So how do colleges and universities use the PSAT in the admissions process? If you score high enough and eventually qualify as a National Merit Scholar or are recognized in some over way for your score, the recognition that you receive can add value to your application. It will be another thing to add to your resume or awards list to make you a more competitive applicant. Some schools may even offer merit scholarships to National Merit Scholars. However, don’t worry if you aren’t recognized for your PSAT score. Most students are not! College admissions decisions are not made on PSAT scores. Colleges will not see your scores. The College Board does not send your PSAT scores to colleges or universities, nor are you expected to.

What is the PSAT good for then if colleges won’t see the scores? Besides the extra line on your resume, the PSAT is a useful tool for you in the college admissions testing process. It can serve as a great practice opportunity to help familiarize yourself with standardized testing and be a great indicator of your performance should you choose to take the SAT. Test results can be used to help identify what you need to work on to improve your performance on the SAT and ACT and to help create a testing timeline and study plan. This is what makes this PSAT important. Think of it as a tool, rather than an admissions requirement, and gear up to take the SAT or ACT. Those tests do count!

– Bryan Lawson, Program Advisor and Premium Tutor | BA International Affairs and French, The George Washington University | MA French Literature, University of Michigan

Applerouth is a trusted test prep and tutoring resource. We combine the science of learning with a thoughtful, student-focused approach to help our clients succeed. Call or email us today at 202-558-5644 or info@applerouth.com.