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Differences between PSAT and SAT

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PSAT 8/9 Online Course

If you want the best chance for scoring high then the Smart Edition PSAT 8/9 course will provide all the material and resources you need to succeed on the test so you can go on to crush the SAT.

What is the PSAT?

The PSAT is a standardized test that measures critical reading, math, and writing skills. It’s administered by the College Board, the same organization that administers the SAT. The PSAT comes in 3 versions designed for different grade levels.

The PSAT 8/9 is taken by 8th and 9th graders, the PSAT 10 is taken by 10th graders and the PSAT/NMSQT is taken by 11th graders.

The PSAT is primarily designed as a performance indicator for the SAT exam. It’s often used as a benchmark score for students to identify subjects they should work towards improving in order to achieve a higher score on the SAT. The test Scores from the PSAT can also be used to identify students who may be eligible for scholarships.

What Is the SAT?

The SAT is a college entrance exam that students take during their junior or senior year of high school. The test is multiple choice and is given as a pencil and paper test, like the PSAT the SAT is administered by the College Board.

The test is used to help colleges determine how strong a student’s academic abilities are and how well they might do in any particular college program. As a standardized test it allows colleges to use a single test score to measure one student’s application to another student’s application. The higher your SAT score is, the more options for colleges and scholarships you will have.

PSAT vs SAT Differences

The biggest difference between the PSAT and SAT is that the PSAT is mainly used for practice and to determine National Merit Scholars, while the SAT is mainly used for college admissions. The PSAT is shorter than the SAT, has a different scoring system, and covers slightly different material.

The PSAT lasts two hours and 45 minutes, while the SAT lasts three hours. The extra hour on the SAT is due to an additional math section (which includes some trigonometry questions) as well as an essay section. The essay section is optional on the SAT, but many colleges require it.

Different Score Ranges

The PSAT is scored on a scale of 320-1520, with 320 being the lowest possible score and 1520 being the highest possible score. The SAT is scored on a scale of 400-1600, with 400 being the lowest possible score and 1600 being the highest possible score. So for example, if your score on the PSAT is a 1480, that means your score falls in the 99th percentile for all test-takers. Conversely, if you take the SAT and score a 1480, that means their score falls in the 95th percentile.

The PSAT Is Offered Seasonally

The PSAT 8/9 is offered in the fall and spring. The dates change slightly each year and you can check the official PSAT 8/9 test dates on the College board website, but generally the test dates are offered during the following months:

End of September – beginning of January
End of February – end of March
Mid April

The PSAT 10 is only offered in the spring in February, March and April, you can see the official PSAT 10 dates on the College Board website.

The PSAT/NMSQT is only offered in October on three specific dates which are the primary test day, a Saturday test date and an alternate test date. You can see the official NMSQT test dates on the College Board website.

The SAT Is More Difficult Than The PSAT

While the subjects are the same between the PSAT and the SAT they are not equal in difficulty. The SAT is more difficult than the PSAT 8/9 which is designed for 8th and 9th graders, however when it comes to the PSAT 10 and NMSQT the difficulty level is more similar.

For example, on the math section of the PSAT 8/9 a student will encounter problems that take fewer steps to solve, usually only one or two steps while on the SAT a math problem may require a solution with multiple steps. As a timed test, more complex math problems present a greater challenge in solving them quickly to ensure you answer all of the questions in the allotted time.

Should My Child Start Test Prep In 10th Grade?

There are a few things to consider when making the decision of when to start test prep with your child, however it is recommended to begin studying for the SAT earlier than later.

You should take into account your child’s goals and objectives. If your child is aiming to score in the 99th percentile, then starting test prep in tenth grade may be necessary. However, if your child’s goal is simply to get into a good college, then starting test prep later would be more in line with their goals.
You should also consider your child’s learning style and whether they will benefit from the extra help that test prep can provide.

Benefits of Combining SAT and PSAT Prep

There are a few key reasons why we recommend that students prepare for both the SAT and PSAT.

Taking practice tests for both exams can help students get a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses. Once a student knows their weak areas they can focus their studying on those topics leading up to the SAT.

Finally, preparing for both exams can help students qualify for scholarships and other programs like National Merit Scholarships. So if your child is planning on taking either exam, we recommend doing some prep for both!

Practice for the PSAT

The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT, and it is important to do well on the PSAT because it can lead to scholarships in the future. Here are some tips on how to prepare and do your best on the PSAT:

Take lots of practice tests. This will help you get comfortable with the test format and timing yourself.

Studying the questions you got wrong. This will help you understand what you need to work on.

Study your weaknesses. If you don’t know your weaknesses, take a practice test and see what areas you need to work on the most.

Have short and specific study sessions focusing on one topic at a time. Don’t try to study everything at once, you will get overwhelmed.

One way to improve your score is by getting a PSAT online study course that the test taker can access on their phone, computer, or tablet at any time. Get study materials that align with their learning style.

For example, a PSAT reading practice test can help learners feel more comfortable on test day. It’s also helpful to have study materials with lots of practice tests and extended answer explanations.