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Can I Take the PSAT After the SAT?


"If my son has already taken the SAT as a sophomore, can he take the PSAT to see if he qualifies for the National Merit Scholarship, and then retake the SAT, or how does that work?"

Dear Holly,

Yes!  You can take the PSAT after the SAT.  On the National Merit Scholarship Corporation website, you can read about the small details and unusual situations.

When I read this page, it seemed as though they really understood gifted kids.  You can give them the test early or graduate them early and still compete.  Check out the site and read for yourself, because it may put you at ease a bit.

My son Alex was in the same position.  Because Alex was doing so well on SAT practice exams when we practiced with his older brother, we had him take the SAT when he was 15 years old.  He ended up scoring an 800, 790 and 790 on the three exam sections, and we were STUNNED.  That was my first clue that he might need to graduate high school early!  The following year he took the PSAT.  Because he was already taking pre-calculus at that time, we made sure he reviewed the SAT Math section.  The day of the PSAT, he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, though.  He had a bad day (teens do that sometimes, you know?)  He didn't score exceptionally well on the PSAT, and ended up being "only" a commended student.  Since the PSAT is only counts ONE TIME as the National Merit Qualifying Test, he had not opportunity to do a re-take.

If you qualify for the National Merit, there are a lot of hoops you have to jump through before you get the award.  The prize itself is relatively small, at "just" $2500 per year.  Sure it may seem like a lot, but it's not much compared to the cost of college.  The National Merit is still worth pursuing, however.  Although the prize is small, the colleges LOVE to have National Merit Scholars.  Many colleges will award huge scholarships to National Merit Scholars.  There are also some businesses that will provide scholarship money to National Merit Scholars!  So even though the prize itself is small, the consequences can be huge.

Look at the college brochures for the schools you are looking at.  If the glossy fliers mention something like "We have 10 National Merit Scholars and 11 Commended Students" then the chances are very good that they will provide large scholarship awards for the winners.   Even though Alex was "just commended" he was still given great scholarships from every college he applied to.

In my opinion, the PSAT and National Merit Scholarship is worth the effort to pursue.  But if you don't win the National Merit, being Commended is also a great commendation!



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Comments 9

Guest - Mary on Sunday, 17 August 2014 15:03

Hello Mrs. Lee
I just want to verify this since it's been a couple years since anyone has posted. My daughter is signed up to take the sat for the first time this October 11, 2014. But the PSAT is on October 15, 2014. She is a junior this year and did very well last year on the PSAT so she was really wanted to "shoot for the stars" so to speak and try to get that national merit scholarship this year. But from what I see here she is allowed to do that. Correct? Thanks so much! Mary

Hello Mrs. Lee I just want to verify this since it's been a couple years since anyone has posted. My daughter is signed up to take the sat for the first time this October 11, 2014. But the PSAT is on October 15, 2014. She is a junior this year and did very well last year on the PSAT so she was really wanted to "shoot for the stars" so to speak and try to get that national merit scholarship this year. But from what I see here she is allowed to do that. Correct? Thanks so much! Mary
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 23:13

Mary,
It sounds like your daughter is really pushing herself! It's wonderful that she has lofty goals, but she may not need to take the PSAT again, since it's function is to prepare students for the SAT. You can read more in Lee's article: Take The PSAT for Fun And Profit
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

Mary, It sounds like your daughter is really pushing herself! It's wonderful that she has lofty goals, but she may not need to take the PSAT again, since it's function is to prepare students for the SAT. You can read more in Lee's article: Take The PSAT for Fun And Profit Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Lee (website) on Saturday, 26 May 2012 11:58

Tima,
You can only qualify for the NMSQT during junior year - sorry! However, for many colleges the SAT score is even more important, and can qualify you for great scholarships, sometimes even full scholarships, depending on the college.
Blessings,
Lee

Tima, You can only qualify for the NMSQT during junior year - sorry! However, for many colleges the SAT score is even more important, and can qualify you for great scholarships, sometimes even full scholarships, depending on the college. Blessings, Lee
Guest - Tima on Saturday, 26 May 2012 11:41

Hello Ms.Lee,
I already took the SAT this May in the fifth (2012). I want to give the PSAT. I'm an 11th grader, well, ill be in 12th starting September. I don't think I can be qualified for the NMSQT anymore, CAN I?? Thanks.

Hello Ms.Lee, I already took the SAT this May in the fifth (2012). I want to give the PSAT. I'm an 11th grader, well, ill be in 12th starting September. I don't think I can be qualified for the NMSQT anymore, CAN I?? Thanks.
Guest - Lee (website) on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 05:24

Katherine,

Whether or not those tests count as an annual assessment probably depends on state law.

The PSAT, SAT, and ACT are standardized tests, so if your state wants a standardized test each year, it will usually fit the bill. I would absolutely ask if it will cover the annual assessment, because that could really save you money!

Blessings,
Lee

Katherine, Whether or not those tests count as an annual assessment probably depends on state law. The PSAT, SAT, and ACT are standardized tests, so if your state wants a standardized test each year, it will usually fit the bill. I would absolutely ask if it will cover the annual assessment, because that could really save you money! Blessings, Lee
Guest - Katherine on Wednesday, 23 July 2008 02:24

Can the PSAT given in October '08 be counted as the annual assessment for '08-'09? Our son took the ACT last fall ('07), could I use that for this year's annual assessment? I just heard that his Iowa Achievement test which I mailed a couple weeks ago was shredded by UPS. I should have made a copy of his answer sheet! If we can use the ACT then he will not have to retake the test. That would be fantastic! Should I call the superintendent's office to ask if his ACT would be adequate assessment? I'd rather not call them but I'd rather know than not know if it would count. Thanks for your helpful advice!

Can the PSAT given in October '08 be counted as the annual assessment for '08-'09? Our son took the ACT last fall ('07), could I use that for this year's annual assessment? I just heard that his Iowa Achievement test which I mailed a couple weeks ago was shredded by UPS. I should have made a copy of his answer sheet! If we can use the ACT then he will not have to retake the test. That would be fantastic! Should I call the superintendent's office to ask if his ACT would be adequate assessment? I'd rather not call them but I'd rather know than not know if it would count. Thanks for your helpful advice!
Guest - Lee (website) on Sunday, 20 July 2008 17:36

Hi Katherine,

I usually recommend taking the PSAT in 10th only IF the student has enough math so they won't be frustrated, and IF you think they may have a chance at the National Merit Scholarship the following year and they need the practice. Sometimes it makes sense to take the test if you need a cheap standardized test for your annual assessments :-) I'm hoping to have a newsletter article on the PSAT for my September issue. I'm still working on the August issue right now, though.

It's OK to take the ACT twice if you think you can raise your score. I wouldn't take it more than twice, though.

Thanks for the encouragement!
Blessings,
Lee

Hi Katherine, I usually recommend taking the PSAT in 10th only IF the student has enough math so they won't be frustrated, and IF you think they may have a chance at the National Merit Scholarship the following year and they need the practice. Sometimes it makes sense to take the test if you need a cheap standardized test for your annual assessments :-) I'm hoping to have a newsletter article on the PSAT for my September issue. I'm still working on the August issue right now, though. It's OK to take the ACT twice if you think you can raise your score. I wouldn't take it more than twice, though. Thanks for the encouragement! Blessings, Lee
Guest - Katherine on Sunday, 20 July 2008 02:09

I read that the 10th graders can take the PSAT for practice and then again in 11th grade for real. Would you recommend taking it in 10th? Our son, going into 10th grade has taken the ACT in order to get into the post secondary program here in Ohio where he can take college classes. How often would you recommend re-taking the ACT?
Thank you! We love your blog and web site!

I read that the 10th graders can take the PSAT for practice and then again in 11th grade for real. Would you recommend taking it in 10th? Our son, going into 10th grade has taken the ACT in order to get into the post secondary program here in Ohio where he can take college classes. How often would you recommend re-taking the ACT? Thank you! We love your blog and web site!
Guest - J W on Monday, 14 July 2008 18:46

Boy, can I ever relate to the waking up on the wrong side of the bed and doing lousy on the PSAT - only in my case, the temperature in the auditorium was f-f-f-fr-e-e-z-z-z-z-i-i-i-ng. Who'd have thought I needed a parka to take a test?!? Naturally, I couldn't just go back to my locker and get one. I took a warm jacket to the SAT. It sure doesn't take much to throw even a good student.

I also took newly acquired test-taking skills. The Princeton Review book really upped my scores.

Boy, can I ever relate to the waking up on the wrong side of the bed and doing lousy on the PSAT - only in my case, the temperature in the auditorium was f-f-f-fr-e-e-z-z-z-z-i-i-i-ng. Who'd have thought I needed a parka to take a test?!? Naturally, I couldn't just go back to my locker and get one. I took a warm jacket to the SAT. It sure doesn't take much to throw even a good student. I also took newly acquired test-taking skills. The Princeton Review book really upped my scores.
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