Yes! Even though the new full-length SAT will not be released until March 2016, the PSAT for the Class of 2017 (this summer’s rising juniors) will be a reflection of the new exam.
That’s right. The new PSAT is debuting before the new full-length SAT is released.
(Are we having fun yet?)
The PSAT is a really important test for students who wish to become National Merit Scholarship Award Winners. This prestigious award can be leveraged during the college admissions process and can qualify students for more merit-based financial aid than their non-National Merit peers. (Even semi-finalist status can give students a competitive edge.)
Now, if National Merit is not in your future, no worries! I created a flow chart to help all students in the Class of 2017 navigate their testing choices.
Regardless of whether or not you plan to go for National Merit, this episode is a great overview of some of the changes that are coming to the testing world and some of the things that all students who are juniors this coming academic year (2015-2016) need to be aware of.
Want help preparing for the PSAT? Check out my free workshop, Strategies for Success on the PSAT.
Listen Now: The New PSAT – What the Class of 2017 Needs to Know
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Testing timeline Recommendation
The testing timeline below is for students who are attempting to qualify for National Merit Scholarships. If you’re not interested in pursuing that path (or if you’re not sure you should pursue that path), check out this blog post: ACT vs SAT: Class of 2017 Edition. It will help families determine the best plan for their personal needs in a simple, straightforward manner.
To qualify for National Merit as a junior in October 2016, I recommend the following:
1. Prepare for & take the September ACT.
Most students who are attempting National Merit distinction will be academically ready to take their college admissions exams at the beginning of their junior year. So why not get it out of the way ASAP and have it do double-duty for PSAT prep as well?
2. Leverage the month between the September ACT and the October PSAT to shift to the new test.*
I recently took the new PSAT and – let me tell you – it is much more akin to the current ACT than it is the current SAT. By preparing for the September ACT, you’ll be 75% ready for the PSAT. All it will take is a slight shift in strategies and a little time to become familiar with the new test to set you on your way to PSAT success.
*All students who prepare for the September ACT with Higher Scores Test Prep will be eligible to attend free group review sessions in that month. Together, we’ll shift strategies from the ACT to the new PSAT.
3. Take the October ACT.
I recommend always taking 2 back-to-back test dates, in this case September and October ACTs. (Learn more about this tactic here.) After taking these two full-length exams and the PSAT, juniors can turn their full attention to their academics and not have to think about the tests again for a while.
4. Get your PSAT scores back in December or January.
After you hear how you did on the PSAT, you can determine the next best steps.
5a. If you’re not named a National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist…
No problem! Stay focused on your academics for the rest of the year – especially any higher level classes you’re in that require end of year testing. (AP or IB) If you feel so inclined, you can take another ACT in the spring of your junior year or in the fall of your senior year.
5b. If you are named a National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist…
You’ve got some more work to do! You’ll have to verify your PSAT scores by taking a full-length SAT in which you score approximately the same score that you did on the PSAT.
Since most National Merit students are very busy in the spring and since the SAT will be brand new, I’m encouraging students to wait until the fall of 2016 to validate their SAT scores. You’ll have 3 test dates to do so (October, November, and December) so there will be plenty of time. That said, make sure you don’t leave it until the final moments. Having 2 or 3 test dates to verify your scores will help keep you calm and ensure that you have ample time to score well on a full-length test.
Don’t forget to check out Celest’s amazing course! Debt Free Degree 101
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