PSAT Offers Practice, Scholarship


Grace Deskin, Staff Writer

During their sophomore and junior year of high school, students are advised to take the PSAT, or Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test, by their counselors.  The PSAT provides students with the opportunity to experience a test format identical to the the SAT.

This year’s test will be administered on October 19 at 8:00 a.m., and is sponsored by College Board and National Merit Scholarship Corporation.  The test is administered by individual schools.  In order to take the test, kids must sign up at their local high school.  Campolindo students can still register for the test on the Campolindo Webstore.

The three sections of testing include math problem solving skills, critical reading skills, and writing skills.  The scores are reported on a scale of 20-80 for each section, and then are added together.  According to, the average score for 2012 was 48 in critical reading, 49 in math, and 47 in writing skills.

While the PSAT tests students on the knowledge they’ve developed over the years, students do not need to recall specific information from classes. This allows students to take the PSAT as sophomores.

Junior Sharon Maher feels like she is ready for the PSAT.  “I was nervous last year, but now that this is my second time, I’m not nervous,” she said. Other students have signed up for courses to help them prepare for the test.  “I’m taking prep classes at Miramonte,” sophomore Erin Huber said.  “I have prep for three weeks leading up to the PSAT.”

Most students take the PSAT to practice for the SAT and to receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses.  Score reports include “national percentile” which allows students to compare their scores with the scores of other students across the country. They can find the scores on

However, many students do not think that the PSAT alone is adequate preparation for the SAT.  “I think that it’s a nice practice test to take, but I don’t think you can just take the PSAT and expect to do well on the SAT,” Maher said.

When juniors take the test, they can also earn special recognition and even money for college.  The National Merit Scholarship program recognizes approximately 15,000 juniors of the 50,000 people who take the test.  These top performers are designated as National Merit Scholarship finalists.