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Can my student take the SAT for the first time without any preparation?


It is fine to take the test “cold” as long as your student is not very anxious or easily discouraged.  Please do this in the fall or winter of junior year – do not wait until spring.



Should my student take the SAT in the spring of sophomore year to get a baseline?


Students who are very ambitious, anxious about the test, or may be recruited for athletics may want to get early experience; however most students are not motivated or mature enough to produce scores that reflect their potential. 



How does the PSAT compare to the SAT?


PSAT questions have the same format as SAT questions. The very hardest question types might be slightly easier on the PSAT. The PSAT is a bit shorter and does not include an essay. 



When and where are PSAT scores released?

Usually right before the December holiday break.  Depending on the school, they may be distributed in homeroom or mailed to your house.  Sometimes boarding schools keep the answer sheets – you may have to request a copy from your student's school. They are also available, along with the test questions, in your student's online College Board account.



Should my student prepare for the PSAT?


Students with 10th grade PSAT scores in the 600s are close to the National Merit Scholar cutoff (usually scores in the low 70os) and should consider doing some preparation for the 11th grade PSAT.  Prep may also be helpful for students who have test anxiety or might be discouraged by low PSAT scores. If budgets are tight, it's better to save resources to prep for the SAT and/or ACT.



Will my student’s scores go up from the PSAT to the SAT?


Maybe.  Students who did not try hard on the PSAT, had first-time jitters or hadn’t learned much Algebra 2 by the test date will often improve.  However, those who benefited from a shorter, easier PSAT, are using the wrong techniques, or made careless errors may not.

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