PSAT

PSAT/NMSQT:  Information updated September 1, 2020

The PSAT/NMSQT exam coordinator is Mrs. Bafus (bafusr@msd281.org); her office is in the Career Center (Room 125A).

PSAT:  Practice or preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test
NMSQT:  National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

Exam registration deadline is October 2, 2020 at the end of the school day:  

Sophomores
can register online using this Google form.  Your test is paid for by the State of Idaho.  Use your school email and register only once.

Juniors will need to pay $17 to take the exam and should bring EXACT change or a check to Kayce Gregory in the Counseling Center to sign up for the exam.  She is there 7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Exam date & time:  Wednesday October 14, 2020.  Testing will occur in groups of 12 throughout the school utilizing teachers' classrooms.  If you need TRANSPORTATION  to school on this day juniors should let Kayce Gregory know when they sign up and sophomores should indicate this on the Google form.  Buses will be available for rides home at 12:30 p.m.

- Arrive to your assigned room at 8:10 a.m.
- The standard test will conclude at approximately 11:30 a.m. and be excused by approximately 11:45 a.m. Accommodated testing will take longer and those students will be contacted directly to confirm times test rooms.
- Room locations will be announced.
- Buses will be available at 12:30 p.m. for rides home.


What is the PSAT/NMSQT?  The PSAT/NMSQT is a standardized test that is taken in October.  It measures the knowledge and skills in reading, writing, and math students learn in the classroom, and scores are considered a measure of college readiness.  Junior students who take the exam can qualify for scholarships through the NMSQT.  The NMSQT is an academic competition for recognition and college scholarships that began in 1955.  Typically, high school juniors are eligible to enter the scholarship program by taking the PSAT/NMSQT which serves as an initial screening each year for 8.600 scholarship awards.  The top one percent of test takers per state may be eligible to participate in the National Merit Scholarship competition.  Corporations and colleges sponsor the scholarships.  Top scores on the test have the potential to qualify students not only for the National Merit Scholarship program but also for substantial scholarships at many different colleges. Read more about the NMSQT at College Board.  

Who takes the PSAT/NMSQT?  The exam is optional for sophomores and juniors.

Benefits of taking the exam:  Taking the exam as a sophomore will allow you to become familiar with the test layout and help you know what to expect for the SAT and what is important for you to be learning about in school for this exam.  For juniors, it is another practice opportunity for the SAT and it is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program.  Every time you take the test you will get better at it.  The format and content of the PSAT/NMSQT is almost the same as the SAT (Khan Academy).

Do I need to study?  You can.  Usually studying for a test increases your chances of getting a better score.  Your PSAT/NMSQT student guide has a practice test insert that you can score yourself.  Khan Academy has detailed SAT information, practice, and diagnostic tools that can help you focus your studying on your areas of need.  They have paper tests as well.  Khan Academy recommends taking two full paper practice tests because you get a realistic sense of how long the test is and where you tend to get tired or mentally blocked.  According to Khan Academy, if you study the SAT prep materials they offer, you will be more than prepared to succeed on the PSAT/NMSQT The PSAT/NMSQT and SAT tests focus on what you have already learned in high school.  They measure your reasoning and critical thinking skills.  If you decide to study, set up a realistic schedule, and take a break the night before the test (Khan Academy). 

MHS test prep:  Ms. Lyon and Ms. Hannon offer about a dozen test preparation sessions every spring.  Students will be informed of the schedule once published and it will be in the daily bulletin as well.  Some of the sessions include SAT overview, Reading, Heart of Algebra, Passport to advanced math, Essay, Strategies & practice for everyone, Writing & language, Problem-solving & data analysis

Test length:  PSAT/NMSQT is 2 hours 45 minutes.  The SAT is 3 hours 50 minutes.  Administration time is in addition to the testing times.

Supplies to bring:  Bring two or three No. 2 wooden pencils.  Mechanical pencils are not allowed.  You may also bring an acceptable calculator.  You can bring a backup calculator and batteries as well.  With that said, all questions can be answered without a calculator.  Also, bring a water bottle and your own snack if you want.  Grab-n-go snacks will be available:  Nature Valley Chewy Chocolate Chunk granola bars and cheese sticks.  

Prohibited devices:  Phones will need to be silenced and left in backpacks which cannot be accessed until the exam is over.  Students may wear a regular type watch with NO alarm.  Smartwatches of any kind are prohibited.  Mechanical pencils are not allowed.

Bubble sheet schools of thought:  There are different schools of thought on this and it is up to you which one to use.  One is to transfer every answer one at a time to your answer sheet.  The other is to avoid going back and forth from your booklet to your answer3 sheet on every question; complete a section and then transfer your answers to the bubble sheet.  This method is said to be beneficial because it will not interrupt your flow and concentration and will also help to make sure you enter your answers correctly by avoiding jumping back and forth.  However, if you decide to use this method, just make sure you leave enough time to transfer your answers to your bubble sheet.

Guessing:  There is no penalty for guessing or blank responses.  This is known as "rights-only scoring".

Student guide:  Once you register for the exam stop by Mrs. Bafus' office to get your student guide.  Reading this will help you understand how each category of the test is presented and will tell you what to expect.  The sections of the test are evidence-based reading and writing, writing and language, and math.

SAT phone app: The College Board app is called Daily Practice SAT.  There is a question of the day, a test bank of questions, you can link your Khan Academy account to utilize their diagnostics so that you can work on areas of need, and you can also score your paper practice tests.

Test day:  Be sure you are fueled up and well-rested the morning of the test.  

Growth mindset:
  Disappointment happens to everyone, and while we may feel like the world comes crashing down
when we fail, you may be surprised at how much you learn and grow from each challenging experience (Khan Academy).