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Is It a Good idea To Take The PSAT As a Sophomore?

Oct 8, 2022
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If you are wondering if it is a good idea to take the PSAT exam in your sophomore year, we have an answer for you. It’s an absolute yes. Taking PSAT in 11th grade has some high stakes attached to it as you will become eligible to avail of the National Merit Scholarships and distinctions. Therefore, it is definitely worth it to give it a try as a sophomore before you sit for one that matters a lot to you. If you want to know the reasons for why we recommend taking the PSAT as a sophomore, please read on!

Reasons for why it is a good idea to take the PSAT as a sophomore

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Following are some of the reasons why you should take the PSAT in your sophomore year: 

Reason 1: It will be an excellent practice for the PSAT in the junior year. This is important because the scores of junior-year PSAT will decide if you are eligible for the National Merit distinctions, including Semifinalist, Commended Scholar, and Finalist. Even scholarships are awarded to the students who score in the top 1%. 

There is not much change in the questions and skills tested on the PSAT from one year to the next, so taking the test in sophomore year is a good way to get familiarized with the paper pattern. With this valuable insight and real-life exam experience, you will be well-prepared to sit the PSAT exam again in your junior year.

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If you have been preparing for the PSAT since your freshman year, taking the PSAT as a sophomore can be a good way to gauge your progress. If you already score in the 95th percentile or higher in the practice tests, you have a good chance of bringing up your scores to the top 1% by the following year. The score you attain on the PSAT during your sophomore year will help you get acquainted with your strengths and weaknesses and help to know about the topics you need to focus on more.

If you aim to achieve a qualifying National Merit score, it is even more important to take PSAT as a sophomore for practice. Apart from preparing you for next year’s PSAT, the test will also help you prepare for other significantly important tests for college, such as the SAT.

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Reason 2: It will serve as a good practice for the SAT. The format of the PSAT is a lot similar to that of the SAT. By seeing your PSAT scores, you can form an estimation about your SAT scores, as both of them are scored on an identical scale. While the range of the PSAT score is between 320-1520, with both evidence-based writing and Math having a score range of 160-170, the range of the SAT scores is between 400-1600, with both evidence-based writing and Math having a score range of 200-800. 

The range of scores for the PSAT is slightly lower than that of the SAT due to the fact that it is a bit easier than SAT. Even though a strong SAT score can be estimated based on a perfect PSAT score, it can’t necessarily be compared to a full 1600 on the SAT. 

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Apart from being similar in terms of identical scoring systems and no deduction of marks for wrong answers, the SAT and PSAT are similar in the type of skills they test. The focus of both tests is on understanding the meaning in context and evaluating and applying information from charts and graphs. For example, instead of asking you to answer stand-alone questions, the exams ask you to answer questions based on longer passages and the relationships between various sentences. That is why preparing for the PSAT will, in many ways, prepare you for the SAT as well. 

Apart from these, the PSAT scores will also help you predict your SAT scores so that you can set your goals based on them. If you are already performing well on the PSAT, you can consider starting preparing for the SAT and even taking it in the sophomore year itself. This could help you get it out of your way altogether. However, if you are not performing well on PSAT, don’t worry. You could just retake the test during your junior and senior years with the hope of improving your scores.

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Remember that it is possible to perform well on the SAT in your sophomore year. All you have to do is start preparing early and make efficient use of your time. This will help you stay ahead of your curve and also decrease the workload for the junior year. 

Reason 3: It helps perform well in AP classes and tests. Apart from helping you prepare for your future PSAT and SAT, taking the PSAT in the sophomore year can potentially help improve your AP scores in the future. This is why some high schools consider the students’ PSAT scores in the sophomore year to determine if they are ready for the AP classes and approve their readiness. You can also ask your school counsellor if it’s a good idea to see whether PSAT scores will be considered while planning the course schedule for the following years.

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Regardless of the requirements of your school, your performance on the PSAT can even personally reveal to you whether you are ready for the AP courses or not. It will help you find the areas where you need to put in more hard work and the skills you need to work on for the following year. This information can act as a foundation for the preparation of other standardized tests in the future as well.

Reason 4: One more reason to take PSAT in the sophomore year is that it proves to colleges that you are on the right track. They will get that message that you are doing all possible to build a strong career. Therefore, sitting for the PSAT test as a sophomore is not just useful for your present success and scores and for getting acquainted with your academic weaknesses and strengths, but it also has long-term benefits for your career by demonstrating your readiness to take up challenges for college. If you are someone who is looking at impressing colleges for admission, you have one more reason to take the test as a sophomore. 

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Conclusion

To conclude, taking the PSAT as a sophomore can serve as a valuable experience for you, helping you understand where you need to improve for future exams, especially if you aim to qualify for the National Merit. The PSAT exam scores completely depend on your preparation. You can definitely perform well and improve your scores by practicing, but this practice needs to be exam-oriented and focused on the areas you find the most challenging.

The score of your sophomore year PSAT can help estimate your future PSAT and SAT scores. Additionally, it can be a helpful measure to determine how well you have studied so far. In other words, taking the PSAT as a sophomore is both diagnostic and predictive. It will help you understand where you stand and how you can turn your weak points into strengths to get closer to your junior-year goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do the PSAT scores of the sophomore year matter?

Well, the answer hugely depends on what you mean by matter. Unless you are considering applying for a specialized program that considers sophomore PSAT scores for admission or you are an elite student-athlete who is being reached out to by college authorities who want an early glimpse of your academic prospects, PSAT scores do not count. However, this does not mean that the scores do not matter at all. Sophomore year PSAT scores can be quite helpful when considered in the appropriate context. 

2. Should sophomore-year students prepare for the PSAT?

Many sophomore students wonder if they should start preparing for the PSAT. Because the sophomore year PSAT scores are not largely inconsequential, the things students should focus more on are getting familiar with the paper pattern and the skills required to tackle the questions on the test. Sophomore-year students do not require extensive tutoring for the PSAT, nor do they need to allot huge chunks of their time to prepare for the PSAT intensely. They should simply take their time to understand what exactly the exam is about and what are the ways to tackle it for success.

3. How many times a year are the PSAT exams offered?

The PSAT exams are held seven times a year in January, March, June, May, December, November, and October, while the PSAT/NMSQT exam is held once a year. Students are however only allowed to take it once a year. 

4. How many times can the PSAT/NMSQT exam be taken?

The PSAT/NMSQT exam can be taken upto four times in high school. Even though it is only allowed once a year, students can take maximum advantage by taking it in the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.

The PSAT As a Sophomore

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