Dec 4, 2009

PSAT’s Aren’t Just About the Scores

High school sophomores and juniors who took the PSAT last October should be receiving their results any day now. According to the College Board, the tests have already been scored, analyzed, and are making their way to high school mailboxes this very minute.

And this is great news, because unlike any other service provided by our friends in Princeton, the PSAT offers an amazing amount of FREE information and advice all packaged together in the materials test-takers automatically receive. So whatever you do, don’t trash the packet!

If you’re worried about test results, keep in mind that the “P” in PSAT stands for “preliminary” not “predictive.” These scores do not predict how well you will do in college and they certainly say very little about how good a student you are. They represent a single snapshot in time and sometimes that picture is neither flattering nor accurate. So, do not ascribe too much value to the scores alone.

Also, be aware that colleges do not use these scores in the admissions process. Unless you happen to score in the very highest percentile of test-takers, the test results have no usefulness to anyone but you, and they will never be reported to colleges.

So what good is the PSAT? Going back to what I suggested earlier, the College Board invested considerable time, thought, and money into developing a package of materials to be presented along with scores. And it’s all provided FREE of charge to test-takers only.

First, every student who takes the PSAT receives an actual copy of the test booklet along with a complete Score Report containing the correct answer, your answer, and the level of difficulty for each question on the test. This information is key to pinpointing test-taking strengths and weaknesses, and you really should go over your results carefully.

As part of the Score Report you will also receive personalized feedback on academic skills and will be directed to two or three areas that might need some improvement as indicated by your answers on the test. If you’re thinking about signing up for an SAT prep class, this information can be extremely helpful in determining what kind of program or intensity level would be best for you.

But the best part of the total PSAT deal is that all students who take the test receive total access to My College QuickStart, which includes an online version of your Score Report as well a study plan, a free practice SAT, and other early college planning tools including an interesting major and career match service. To access My College QuickStart, you simply open a College Board website account using the access code printed on your PSAT paper score report. Be prepared to receive email follow-up, but most should be helpful in your college search.

Before the scores arrive, take some time to do a little prep work. The College Board offers a guided tour of My College QuickStart on its website, which should help you get ready. Once you receive your scores, you can open an account. Then go ahead take advantage of the most useful FREE service provided by the College Board.

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