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PSAT PANIC!!

You are not the only one.  Some children are just perfectionists, nervous about tests.  Although no fault of their own, parents feel like they are the only one with a panicky teen.

PSAT
My son isn't feeling confident about taking the PSAT. My question is, does he have to take it? He has been having a hard time since the summer and because he's struggling emotionally, I am not sure it's a good idea for him to take it.  He is doing well at Community College - he's getting all As but he lacks confidence in his ability to take this test. He has been practicing for it since the beginning of September.  If he didn't take the PSAT he could still continue to study for the SAT. We're not interested in the National Merit  Scholarship. What are your thoughts?
~ Paula in Washington

Dear Paula,

Your son does not have to take the PSAT.

Taking the PSAT would be a good idea, in my opinion. He has already been practicing for it.  Getting A's in community college demonstrates that he is very, very bright. He probably will do quite well.

Instead of using it for National Merit Scholarship purposes, think of it as only PRACTICE.  It's practice for the SAT. It's his opportunity to take a significant test with 700 other distracting and distracted teenagers. He can practice feeling the anxiety and duration of the test, and yet not have ANY negative repercussions from it.

The purpose of the PSAT is two-fold.  First, it qualifies students for the National Merit, but that's only part of the benefit. The other benefit is the practice. If your son is anxious about the PSAT, then he will be just as anxious about the SAT. By taking the PSAT in the midst of his current lack of confidence, he will be practicing how to take the SAT with a lack of confidence. Practice like that can make his score higher on the SAT.

The PSAT is like a flying an airplane. You can practice and practice and practice on flight simulators, but until you are really in the cockpit really flying a plane, it just isn't the same thing.

Even if your child gets a "bad" score, nothing bad will happen.  The PSAT score is not given to colleges. A bad score can not hurt your child. If your child decides says "yes" to the Student Search Service, they do not report your scores to colleges or scholarship services. Colleges that use Student Search Service will receive your name and address ONLY  if you have a certain grade average, score range, intended major, or if you live in a particular state or zip code. However, they do not see your actual score. You can also decide not to participate in the Student Search Service.

That said, only you as the parent know the story behind his emotional struggles. If you believe it is best for him to miss the PSAT, no harm will come. He will only be missing an opportunity to practice in a real-life setting.  Nothing more than that.

The practice of the PSAT may be extremely helpful.  Still, it's not a requirement. Your son does not have to take the PSAT.


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Comments 3

Guest - Kathy (website) on Thursday, 29 November 2012 08:35

One thing we did with these high-stakes tests is that we started them taking the ACT in 7th grade. We had a program called the Rocky Mountain Talent Search, but it is now being run by the Davidson Institute. Our daughter took the test over and over, and we did the same thing with our son 5 years later. She did very well on the PSAT (but missed being a Scholar by just a few points). This was the best investment we ever made. It paid off in high ACT scores, and tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships for both children at selective private colleges. My son is also close to making the dean's list this semester.

One thing we did with these high-stakes tests is that we started them taking the ACT in 7th grade. We had a program called the Rocky Mountain Talent Search, but it is now being run by the Davidson Institute. Our daughter took the test over and over, and we did the same thing with our son 5 years later. She did very well on the PSAT (but missed being a Scholar by just a few points). This was the best investment we ever made. It paid off in high ACT scores, and tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships for both children at selective private colleges. My son is also close to making the dean's list this semester.
Guest - Lee (website) on Monday, 11 October 2010 18:05

Dear Elise,
I usually do recommend Student Search Service. You can get more information about it here:
http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/psat/about/tools/sss
It appears to have all pros, with no real negatives. Any bad scores aren't tied to your child, but any good score can help them.
Blessings,
Lee

Dear Elise, I usually do recommend Student Search Service. You can get more information about it here: http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/psat/about/tools/sss It appears to have all pros, with no real negatives. Any bad scores aren't tied to your child, but any good score can help them. Blessings, Lee
Guest - elise k on Monday, 11 October 2010 17:02

Very helpful, Lee...Could you comment more on the pros and cons of saying yes to the Student Search Service on the PSAT, perhaps in a future blog post? I've wondered if we'd be missing something valuable if my son doesn't say yes to it (he's very bright but we're advising him to only look into Christian colleges).
Thanks!

Very helpful, Lee...Could you comment more on the pros and cons of saying yes to the Student Search Service on the PSAT, perhaps in a future blog post? I've wondered if we'd be missing something valuable if my son doesn't say yes to it (he's very bright but we're advising him to only look into Christian colleges). Thanks!
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