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Does the PSAT Matter? Should I Put Effort Into PSAT Preparation?


Question: Does the PSAT Matter? Should I Put Effort Into PSAT Preparation?
The PSAT is not used directly by colleges and universities when they make their college admissions decisions. Your acceptance or rejection is much more dependent on the SAT or ACT. This doesn't mean you shouldn't take the PSAT seriously.
Answer: The PSAT does matter. Here's why:
  • Your scores on the PSAT are used for awarding many scholarships including about 8,200 National Merit Scholarships.
  • If you are a National Merit finalist (or sometimes even a semi-finalist or commended student), many corporations use this honor to award their own scholarships.
  • Hundreds of colleges guarantee additional Merit Scholarships to National Merit finalists.
  • Many colleges, in an effort to attract the best students and boost their reputations, offer significant institutional grants (sometimes even free tuition) to National Merit finalists. National Merit finalists are aggressively recruited by colleges.
  • The PSAT is quite similar to the SAT, so the exam will give you a good indication of your level of preparedness for the SAT. If you do poorly on the PSAT, this is a sign that you need to do some meaningful preparation before taking the SAT.
  • In the winter after you take the PSAT, colleges will probably begin sending unsolicited mail to you. While much of this mail may end up in the recycling bin, it’s useful for seeing how different colleges try to distinguish themselves. The college brochures also give you useful information for figuring out which types of schools are of most interest to you, and which schools are most interested in you.
  • To reiterate the financial picture -- the combination of a National Merit Scholarship, corporate scholarships, college scholarships, and college grants can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

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