Exam Changes

Summer School

About The New PSAT: Ken's Advice To Junior Parents

Dear Junior Parents;

As you probably know, the new PSAT will be given in October 2015, and the current SAT will be given through January 2016. The new SAT will be offered in March, May, and June of 2016.

Students are welcome here to start this fall with PSAT prep. I have been working with students using the available new PSAT and SAT materials, and personally feel prepared to assist students with this new testing material and the several changes in format. The new PSAT has 4 sections which combine into 2 sub scores - Reading/Writing, and Math. The new scale will be 800/800 for a total of 1600.

The first PSAT section will be Reading (60 minutes), and the second section will be Writing (35 minutes). The third section is Math (no calculator allowed, 45 minutes), followed by Math (calculator allowed, 25 minutes.) The total time is 2 hours and 45 minutes, which is longer than the "old" test which took 2 hours and 10 minutes. All questions are in multiple-choice format except for about 10 of the math questions.

As a side note, only current juniors will have the opportunity to take both the current SAT and the new SAT. For the class of 2017 only, all colleges will accept both current and new SAT scores, and ACT scores.

For National Merit Semi-Finalist status, a student needs to ace the new PSAT in October 2015, and should get a jump start now in prepping for it if possible. However, as a side note, if a student did very well on the sophomore year PSAT, prepping for the current SAT and taking it in the fall or winter of 2015 might be a good idea (October, November, December, January). It can't hurt.

The "old" PSAT (Oct. '14) is like the current SAT, which may be a good test for current strong sophomore year PSAT testers to take. Get a mark! Take both the current and new SAT. Then go from there. Again, for the Class of '17 only, there is a safety net to fall into, if desired, of using current SAT scores, along with new SAT scores, for admissions and scholarships. For the Class of '18 and after, only new SAT scores and current ACT scores will be considered.

I also highly recommend taking the ACT. All colleges in the country have accepted ACT scores since March of 2007. I honestly believe that these changes in the new SAT format, some of which are confusing and tedious, will cause more students to stay on the ACT prep boat.

I recommend that students get advice regarding which testing format and timetable is suitable and appropriate for them during junior and senior years - SAT or ACT - both, or just one, and when?

On a final note, please understand this. If only the top 1/2 of the top 1% of PSAT testers (99.5 %ile) become NMSQT semi-finalists, how do the other 99.5% of students receive their scholarships? Answer: through their grades, SAT/ACT scores, recommendations, activities, etc. Yes, being a NMSQT scholar is a wonderful accolade that opens many doors, but in addition to the hundreds of NMSQT Finalists who have been helped here, many other students who were not NMSQT finalists also received wonderful academic merit scholarships and athletic scholarships to their dream schools based on their strong test scores.

There is a light at the end of this test prep tunnel after all. Keep it all in perspective. Test success is a process, and seniors always do the best. There is time on your side if you start prep earlier rather than later. And always remember my motto: "You are not your SAT or ACT score. Good or bad! You are more than that score. Never do the comparison act." Period!

Ken Krueger

Educational Guidance Services