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FAQs- SAT and PSAT/NMSQT

SAT & PSAT/NMSQT F.A.Q.

Signing up for the Test
Taking the Real Test
SAT Question Difficulty
Test Scores
Sending SAT scores to Colleges
The PSAT/NMSQT
SAT versus ACT
Homeschooling and The SAT
Dyslexia and Special Needs
Adults and The SAT

SIGNING UP FOR THE TEST

How do I sign-up for the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT?

Parents or students can sign-up by mail or on the official web sitewww.collegeboard.com. Please sign up early because deadlines and late fees may apply. There is a nominal fee to sign up for the test, but waivers are available for individuals that may find this fee a financial burden. The PSAT/NMSQT can only be registered for at your local high school up until the day of the test if there is room.

How often are the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT offered?

The SAT is offered seven times a year (October, November, December, January, March, May, June), and the PSAT/NMSQT is offered once a year (Third Wednesday or Saturday in October).

What do I do if my child was signed up as a junior to take the SAT and then the next year I found out about the PSAT/NMSQT only counting for scholarships in their junior year?

If the student has not taken the PSAT/NMSQT yet, they still can. You can sign them up as a junior, as long as you show the appropriate graduation date that correlates with them being a junior. According to the National Merit Corporation, the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT are separate tests and grades are not compared. The PSAT/NMSQT score is only used for the scholarship contest and counts in a student’s junior year or the third year he or she takes it.

Is it true that colleges only want students to take the SAT 2-3 times?

False. There is no penalty for taking the SAT many times. It’s offered seven times a year. Colleges generally drop the lowest scores and some colleges will even take the highest scores from different sections on different tests. They do not average the tests.

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TAKING THE REAL TEST

What do I take to the real test?

Being prepared will help lessen the overall stress of test-taking, so gather these items the night before: several sharpened pencils (#2), calculator with new batteries, picture I.D., registration ticket (from College Board web site), driving directions, sweater (buildings are usually kept cold), and a snack. There are more priceless tips about “The week before the test, the day before the test and the day of the test” in the book College Prep GeniusClick here to order now!

How do I set up my profile with the College Board?

To get an account at College Board go to: https://ecl.collegeboard.com/account/AccountProfile.jsp

What kind of calculator do I need for the SAT and PSAT?

First of all, all math questions on these tests CAN be answered correctly and quickly without a calculator. To learn the secrets to easily finding the math answers order here. However it is recommended that all students take a calculator to the test. You are only allowed to use it during the math sections, and sharing one will be cause for dismissal from the test. Here are the acceptable calculators: Graphing calculators, Scientific calculators, and Four-function calculators (not recommended option). BE WARNED – students may be seated away from other students (at the discretion of the test proctor) if their calculator has characters that are one inch or bigger or if it has a raised display where others may see it. THESE are unacceptable calculators: Laptop or a portable/handheld computer; Any calculator that has (typewriter-like) keypad, uses an electrical outlet, makes noise, or has a paper tape; Electronic writing pad or pen-input/stylus-driven device; Pocket organizer; and Cell phone calculators.

Can you give me some good tips on using a calculator?

It is always good to use the same calculator that you have been practicing with at home. Always bring one to the test just in case, and make sure it has fresh batteries. Simple functions are all that are needed, so don’t waste your money on expensive calculators. Learn how to never get out your calculator with College Prep Genius order now.

Can I write in my actual test booklet?

Yes you can! The official College Board test rules in the “Getting Ready for the SAT” states clearly that students can use their test booklet for scratch work. One of these guides can also be picked up at a guidance counselor’s office. Here’s also a direct link: https://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/sat/getting-ready-for-the-sat.pdf

When and how often should students take the SAT?

Many students start taking the SAT as early as seventh grade for talent search purposes, and there is no age limit. Students should start working on the PSAT/NMSQT in ninth grade. Although there is little significance to the PSAT in ninth and tenth grade, students should take it in both years to familiarize themselves with the test and identify their weaknesses and strengths. Sophomores should take at least one SAT and use the summer before the junior year to prepare for the PSAT. Juniors should take the October SAT right before the PSAT/NMSQT which will qualify them for the National Merit Scholarship competition. Learn how to ace the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT by clicking here!

How many times can I take the PSAT/NMSQT?

Students can take the PSAT up to three times during high school. It is only offered once per year, but a student can take advantage of the test in the freshman, sophomore, and junior years. However, the score will only count for scholorships during the junior year.
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SAT QUESTION DIFFICULTY

Is there Trigonometry or Calculus on the SAT test?

No! The highest math on the SAT will be Algebra 2, and on the PSAT/NMSQT will be Algebra 1. Most of the math problems come from basic Arithmetic and simple Geometry.

What makes an SAT question hard?

A question is considered hard if more people got it wrong on the experimental section of a previous test.

Are some SATs harder than others?

No, The College Board tries to make sure each test is created with the same level of difficulty and integrity. Every exam is independently graded on the same equal curve, so that no test is more difficult than any other.

Is it true that the test questions are in order of difficulty and I should work through the earlier questions fast and concentrate longer on the last questions?

No, they are not necessarily in order of difficulty, especially in the Critical Reading Section. To verify this, look at the answer key pages in the books, Official SAT Guide and The10 Real SATS. Treat each problem the same—look at it logically and follow the steps to success outlined in College Prep Genius. Click here to order now!

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TEST SCORES

What is a good SAT score?

The average score right now is 1500 (out of 2400). A good starting score for scholarships for many colleges is around 1800. Full scholarships can be obtained with scores around 2100. A lot of colleges say they are not counting the new writing section for the first few years. If this is true, then around a 1400 (math and critical reading) would be a good starting point for scholarships. Test scores for college entrance vary from each college. Read testimonials of students who have raised their scores as much as 500 points.

How soon do I get my SAT test score back?

The fastest way to get your scores back is to create an account atwww.collegeboard.com. Scores can be viewed on this website around two weeks after test date.

What if I think the College Board made a mistake in grading my test?

For a small fee, you can request your test to be hand scored. Call them at (609) 771-7600.

What if there were distractions that hindered my test score?

Contact Fair Test at (617) 864-4810, www.fairtest.org, FAX: (617) 497-2224.

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SENDING SAT SCORES TO COLLEGES

How do you get your SAT score sent to the colleges that you are looking to possibly attend for your higher education?

When you sign-up on line for the SAT, there are four boxes where students can request their scores to be sent to the colleges of their choice at no charge. For a small fee, they can have their scores sent to additional colleges. For more information, visithttps://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/scores.html.

How do I get only my best test score sent to the school(s) of my choice?

The College Board has Score Choice where students can choose to send only certain scores to colleges. Sometimes a school wants to see ALL scores by a student, but the good news is that most colleges only want to know a student’s highest score. They don’t have time to go through every score. There is also no penalty for taking the test many times. Colleges don’t average the scores and many schools will take the highest scores from different sections on different tests to get the student the best score. Therefore it behooves students to take the test many times.

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THE PSAT/NMSQT

What is the difference between the SAT test and the PSAT/NMSQT test?

With the College Board changes in March of 2005, the two tests are very similar now. They both contain three sections: Math, Critical Reading and Writing. However, the PSAT/NMSQT does not contain an essay and has up to Algebra 1 on the math section, whereas, The SAT contains some Algebra 2. The PSAT/NMSQT is only offered in October (third Tuesday or Saturday) and the SAT is offered seven times a year (October, November, December, January, March, May and June). The SAT is used for college entrance as well as scholarship opportunities, but the PSAT/NMSQT’s sole purpose is to determine eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship program.

Both tests are important and when students are studying test-taking techniques for one test, essentially they are also studying for the other test.

Why is the PSAT/NMQST so important?

If a student’s PSAT/NMQST score falls within the semi-finalist range, it will qualify him or her for numerous scholarship opportunities that can include full tuition, room and board, graduate school money, study abroad stipends and more. For many colleges, having a National Merit Scholar is a bragging right for their school since semi-finalists represent the top one percent of the nation. PSAT/NMQST scores from minorities are also entered in The National Achievement Award.

What if I miss the one chance at the PSAT/NMSQT when it counts?

If your student misses the PSAT/NMSQT in their junior year due to illness or extenuating circumstances, they can take the “alternative testing option.” Students can take the SAT 1 in exchange for the PSAT/NMSQT and the score is converted  and used in substitution for the PSAT/NMSQT. They have up to eight months to retake this test several times (after the October PSAT/NMSQT has been administered). This procedure includes calling or sending a letter or fax to the National Merit Corporation (by March 1st) stating that your child did not take the test and you want the extension/alternative testing time. Students will need to have a counselor (or parent if homeschooled) sign-off on this request. It is not necessary to give a reason why they missed the test on the packet. The National Merit Corporation will send you information showing future SAT test dates and tell you to use their code on the test (code 0085). The scores will then go directly to them [The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (847)866-5100]. Students will still be eligible for scholarships opportunities. These scores can also count for their SAT as well. Besides the National Merit code, students will need to put down the code(s) for the colleges they want their SAT score to go to as well. (It is always best to take the PSAT/NMSQT if possible because it is shorter an easier than the SAT so start in 9th grade practicing on and taking the PSAT/NMSQT.)

What is a great PSAT/NMSQT score?

It varies yearly depending on what state you live in and the average test score the year it is taken. For example, qualifying scores for Texas have been around a 216 but for Arkansas, they have been around a 201. A complete state test score breakdown can be found in the book College Prep Genius (Order now!). Out of a possible 240 points, in recent years, a test score anywhere in the 200-217 range has qualified students for the semi-finalist status. The National Merit Corporation will send all semi-finalists information and details about applying to be a finalist. To not be disqualified, make sure you do everything they ask and get the information mailed back in time to be eligible for any awards. Make follow-up calls to make sure materials were received. Out of the contenders, scholars are then picked. There are also scholarship opportunities for those who score at the National Merit Commendable level (10-15 points below the semi-finalist status).

What about getting my test booklet back?

The PSAT/NMSQT booklet will automatically be sent back to you/your school, but to get your SAT information, you will have to order the Question and Answer Service from the College Board. This service is usually offered for the October, January and May tests. Not only does this allow you the opportunity to go over the questions that were missed, but also the packet can be used to practice taking the test over again.

How many times can I take the PSAT/NMSQT?

Students can take the PSAT up to three times during high school. It is only offered once per year, but a student can take advantage of the test in the freshman, sophomore, and junior years. However, the score will only count for scholarships during the junior year.

If you have been told that your child cannot take the PSAT/NMSQT more than once, please click on this link which explains that a student CAN take it “in multiple years”:
https://www.collegeboard.com/school/pno/psat_ordering_help.html#psat_max_exam_num

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SAT VS. ACT

What is the difference between the SAT and the ACT?

The ACT is only offered six times and the SAT is offered seven times a year. The ACT is a curriculum-based test and contains English, Science and up to Trigonometry. The SAT is a logic test and based on Critical Thinking for its Math, Verbal and Writing sections. Every school (even Ivy-Leagues) will take either score and if they one score to the other, they will convert the score. (e.g. 1300 SAT (M/CR) is equivalent to a 29 on the ACT) Because most standardized tests are similar, information taught in our program can be used as a cross-over for other tests such as the ACT, GRE, AP… Start preparing for the SAT today by checking out the College Prep Genius curriculum.

Is the ACT conversion chart in this book the same for the new SAT?

Yes, at this point, The College Board has made no changes on the chart. Check with each individual college to see if they have a different conversion chart (Example: 1300 SAT – Math/Verbal = 29 ACT).

What is the difference between dual credit, AP classes and CLEP hours?

A dual credit class is when a student is enrolled in both a high school (public, private or homeschool) and a local college or university. Students take classes at both institutions to simultaneously earn credit for their graduation requirements as well as college credit. Although, some dual credit classes result in college credit, some are used as honors courses and some are used for internal class placement and prerequisite requirements.

AP (Advanced Placement) classes are college-level courses taken in high school. Students who complete AP courses are eligible to take AP exams designed by The College Board. These tests are scored on a scale of 1-5. A score between 3 and 5 may qualify a student for college credit at most colleges and universities.

CLEP (College Level Examination Program) allows a student to earn college credit by taking qualified CLEP tests in a particular subject. The tests are designed to correspond to a one-semester class; it can sometimes cover up to a two-year course. The exams are generally 90 minutes long and cover specific information on knowledge and skills acquired about a certain subject.

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HOMESCHOOLING AND THE SAT

Are homeschoolers at a disadvantage when it comes to the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT?

Definitely not! The material on the SAT is not an exclusive curriculum found only at public or private schools. The test is a “reasoning” or logic test and the key to doing well is to learn the hidden strategies and recurring patterns that are usually found on these tests.

Where is the homeschooler’s PSAT/NMSQT score sent after it is graded?

Test scores (and booklets) will automatically be sent to the high school code placed in the grid. To ensure that scores/test are sent to your home, use the appropriate homeschool code for your state in the blank provided. Tests with the homeschool code will not affect the average scores of the testing facility.

Where do I find the homeschool code to put on the test?

The homeschool code for your state can be found at:https://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/reg/homeschool/state-codes.html.

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DYSLEXIA AND SPECIAL NEEDS

What if my child has dyslexia or another disability?

Accommodations can be made for students with special needs and time constraints can be lessened. However, going through the process of obtaining special accommodations could take many months. Parents will need to schedule a battery of tests, obtain the diagnostician’s report for their student, arrange for and implement accommodations at school, and have these accommodations in use in the school setting for a minimum of four months (College Board rule). When applying for special accommodations please keep in mind the time it takes for the College Board to process and grant/deny the request. Families may be limited to working with the school’s calendar/timetable for testing, ARDs and creating IEPs. Ideally, the process of preparing for standardized tests should start in the student’s freshman or sophomore year, to allow time for the College Board accommodations to be in place before the PSAT/NNSQT in the student’s junior year. For more information about forms, eligibility and documentation please visithttps://www.collegeboard.com/ssd/prof/physical-disabilities.htmlor call (609) 771-7137.

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ADULTS AND THE SAT

Can adults take the SAT?

Yes, although not all colleges require it for older applicants. Please check with the school of your choice.

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