You’re probably already hearing about the early October tests: the SAT and the PSAT. They’re offered at about the same time, so what’s the difference?
Purpose. Unlike the SAT, the PSAT won’t be part of your college application. So why take it? Some students take the PSAT because they hope to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship. However, fewer than 1% of PSAT testers will become semifinalists. Most students take the PSAT because their schools require it! It gives students and schools an idea of how students are likely to score on the SAT.
Scores. The PSAT is slightly easier than the SAT, and the scores reflect that. The SAT’s two main sections, Evidence Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) and Math, are each scored on a scale of 200-800. The PSAT has the same sections, but their scales run 160-760. The concepts and question types are very similar; you’ll just see a few more of the hardest questions on the SAT.
The essay. The SAT offers an optional essay. The PSAT does not, so check out some sample prompts if you plan to take the SAT essay.