For SAT & ACT info, visit the SAT & ACT page under College Planning…

August – Prepare!

Students received PSAT Practice booklets to begin preparing for the PSAT.  Practice tools are also available at

October/November – Juniors Take the PSAT/NMSQT

All PSAT/NMSQT’s are given nationwide in October or November of each year (for 2020, the test date is Wednesday, Oct. 28).  This is the last practice test prior to taking the “real” SATs, and test-takers are eligible to qualify for a National Merit Scholarship.  Testing begins promptly at 8:00 a.m. and ends roughly at 11:50 a.m.
Testing tips to remember:
  • Get a good night’s rest.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Bring a calculator with you for the math section. The math questions can be answered without a calculator, but if you want one, bring the one you are comfortable using.  Calculators can be the scientific or graphing kind you use at school for your normal math classes; they cannot make sounds or have a keyboard.
The cafeteria staff will provide some simple snacks/drinks free of charge at break time, but students may bring their own.  Students will be allowed a restroom break but will not be allowed to leave the Upper School hall during break.
From the College Board website (
The lowest possible score on each section of the PSAT/NMSQT is a 160; the highest is an 760. For more information about test scores and college readiness benchmarks, visit
Food and beverages, including bottled water, are prohibited from the test room, unless approved for medical reasons.  All handheld electronic devices (cell phones, MP3 players, pagers, etc.) must be turned off. If any vibration or sound of any kind comes from a device, the student’s test is declared null and void.

Benchmarks:  PSAT/NMSQT scores are reported on a scale of 160 to 760 in each of two sections. The benchmarks for college readiness (the ability to do college-level work successfully in the freshman year of college) for 11th graders are –

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 460
  • Math: 510

January – Set up College Board accounts & review scores

Because the end of the quarter and exams are coming up in the middle of December, the counselor will meet with 10th and 11th grades for a class period as soon as school starts back after Christmas break. During this class, she will show students how to set up their College Board accounts and use their scores to help prepare for future college entrance exams (the SAT or ACT ).  Students will receive their hard copies of the PSAT/NMSQT score sheets at this time. Students are encouraged to give the counselor their College Board logins/passwords in case they misplace or forget them later…  Students will need this info when they register for the “real” SATs.

February/March – Sophomores Take PSAT-10’s

All PSAT-10’s are given nationwide in the late winter of each school year (for 2020, the test date is March 10). This test is geared toward students who have completed a little more than their 10th grade coursework. Testing begins promptly at 8:00 a.m. and ends roughly at 11:50 a.m.  Scores will be distributed and explained to students as soon as they are released to the school. 

The PSAT-10 benchmarks for college readiness (the ability to do college-level work successfully in the freshman year of college) are –

  • Evidence-Based Reading and Writing: 430
  • Math: 480

A note from Mrs. Choplin:
Remember, this is a “P” SAT – meaning it’s practice to show you how this kind of test operates. Colleges do not receive PSAT scores. They are only for you to help you!  Although college admissions do not rely solely on test scores (lots of other factors, too), but they do play a part, so the students who take the experience from the PSAT and learn from it, taking time to use the practice materials provided by College Board (and me!), will do better and score higher on the SAT later on.  Question yourself – how many of you actually looked at the practice guide for the PSAT that I sent home with you in August?  Do you think preparing for it might have helped your score? Just think about that for future tests.

More info from the College Board website about PSAT/NMSQT scores:

Also listed on your score report is the Selection Index, which is used to determine eligibility in National Merit Scholarship Corporation programs (NMSC). Note: Only students in eleventh grade are eligible to enter NMSC scholarship programs.

Finally, score reports include national percentiles, which allow you to compare your scores with other students in your grade level who have taken the PSAT/NMSQT. If you take the PSAT/NMSQT in the eleventh grade, you receive junior percentiles. If you take the PSAT-10 in tenth grade, you will receive sophomore percentiles. For example, a student in eleventh grade with a percentile of 55 has earned a score better than 55 percent of all eleventh graders. Another way to understand percentiles is to imagine 100 students lined up from the lowest (or 1st) percentile at the end of the line to the highest (or 99th) percentile at the front of the line. If you are at the 55th percentile, you would be the 56th person in line, ahead of 55 people in the line and behind 44. Go to Score Report Plus for more information about your score report.

The recommended testing cycle is to take the SAT in the spring of your junior year and again early in the fall of your senior year. You can test as many times as you wish (each test costs a little more than $50).  These same recommendations can work for the ACT (another acceptable college entrance exam).