Predictive Value? The PSAT and SAT

predictionpicThe PSAT is a milestone exam for most high school juniors (and some sophomores!).

Colleges DO NOT receive PSAT score reports.  Unless a student is competing for the National Merit Scholarship, in many ways, the PSAT is STRICTLY PRACTICE.  

However, it does have some predictive value – but take this with a  grain of salt.

Essentially, the exam is one half of a full-length SAT. There is no essay on the PSAT, only 2 reading sections, 2 math sections, and one grammar section. There is also no experimental section, the psychological mind-game section that students take during the SAT but is not scored. 

For these reasons, the PSAT can be misleading. Although it is formatted and scored like an SAT, results are often inflated. The 2.5 hours of PSAT testing that students endure is much less taxing than the 5 hours of SAT. Also, the essay (absent from the PSAT) may increase or decrease writing component scores depending on writing ability. And, the PSAT math questions are consistently easier than the SAT math questions.

We are not the bearers of bad news! The PSAT is indicative of strengths and weaknesses, but keep in mind that they are ball-park numbers.

The PSAT should be used as a preliminary assessment, to help formulate a game plan and to motivate students to attain goals.

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