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The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is a standardized test administered by the College Board and co-sponsored by the National Merit® Scholarship Corporation in the United States.

All 10th grade students who attend Broward County Public Schools sit for the test during a school day in October at no charge. Ninth and eleventh grade students may also sit for the test for a small fee. The 11th grade PSAT is the qualifying test for the National Merit® Scholarship Program.

The test duration is 2 hours and 45 minutes and evaluates students on Reading and Mathematics. The score range is 160-760 for each section, for a maximum score of 1520.

Why should students sit for the PSAT?

The PSAT is a great way to prepare for the SAT test and can qualify top students for the National Merit® Scholarship Program.

How do students qualify to be a National Merit® Finalist?

High school students whose junior year PSAT scores represent the top 1% in their state might qualify. Each year the Collegeboard publishes an index, differing by state, to determine qualifying scores.

Should all students pay the fee to sit for the test as high school juniors?

Not necessarily. Although the PSAT is great practice for the SAT, the only students who MUST take the PSAT in their junior year are those who scored extremely well on the PSAT they took in either 9th or 10th grade and want to be considered for National Merit® recognition. In this case, prepping for the PSAT during the summer before 11th grade will help them to potentially qualify as a National Merit® finalist.

What is the benefit of becoming a National Merit® finalist?

If you plan to attend the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, University of Miami, University of South Florida, or New College of Florida, National Merit® finalists can earn a full ride (at University of Miami it does not constitute a full ride, but is worth what a full ride would cost at a Florida public university). This scholarship is called the Benacquisto Scholarship and is funded by the state. See my Benacquisto blog here for more information.

Certain out of state schools give National Merit® finalists a monetary award as well. Highly selective schools like the Ivies, MIT and Duke do not give these monetary awards. But Boston University, Northwestern, Emory, Tulane, Vanderbilt and USC, among others, do. See the Bencquisto blog for more details.

How can students prepare for the PSAT?

Khan academy, sponsored by the Collegeboard, offers free online practice for both the PSAT and the SAT:

Please contact us at info@ascentcollegeadvising for more details on the PSAT and the National Merit® Scholarship Program.

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