Why would a math genius score poorly on the PSAT? After reading my blog post of choosing math, Natalie asked me this question:
Excellent advice you’ve provided! My 15 year old son has excelled with Saxon and is currently enjoying their Advanced Math with Pre-Cal and Trig as a sophomore. One problem I hope you may be able to address…Although he has excelled in his co-op math classes and is far ahead of schedule, he performed very poorly recently on his at-home diagnostic practice for the PSAT this year as a sophomore. Any ideas why? Any ideas for a solution? I’m baffled as he LOVES math and Apologia Physics which are quite challenging! Thank you so very much for your mentorship! God bless you greatly!
Thank you so much for your comments on the blog!
PSAT math scores have a lot to do with practicing math BASICS. Once children begin to excel in math, their basic skills become a little rusty and a bit slower, making the beginner-level math in the PSAT more difficult. For non-math-geniuses, this is the type of math they do everyday in school, so they are sometimes more familiar with the content. The PSAT also uses a similar format to the SAT, and so there is a certain amount of test-taking "skill" that can improve your score. For these reasons, it can really REALLY help the math-lovers to do some PSAT practice prior to the exam. It can be as simple as taking the Sample PSAT that you are given when you register for the test. If you have more time, then you may want to invest in a PSAT study guide by Princeton Review.
On the bright side, kids who like math can sometimes enjoy doing the math review sections of the PSAT, just because they think math is fun! Kids who like math will often have enough math to score very well on the PSAT, and can sometimes be candidates for the National Merit Scholarship - so it really can pay off to study for the test.
Remember, taking the PSAT as a sophomore is "just for fun." You can use the PSAT score from sophomore year as a "starting point" where you begin your study. Then study for the test this year, practicing just a little bit at a time. Next year when he takes the PSAT "for real" you will be able to see his improvement.