If you reside in the United States then either during your sophomore or junior year in high school you will be required to complete a standardized test known as the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). This test covers a variety of areas and is a measure of such things as your math ability, your writing skills, your critical reading skills, and so on. This test is a precursor to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) that a student must take in their senior year of high year. The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test helps prepare the student to take the SAT.
The SAT is a college admissions test that can have a huge impact on what colleges or universities the student will be accepted into. The higher the score a student gets the better it is for his or her future educational pursuits.
There is a tendency to push aside the PSAT as being nothing more than a rehearsal for the SAT. However in actuality the score a student gets on their Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test can also play a role in what types of scholarships, grants and financial awards they are offered down the line. That is why it is so important that every student take both their PSAT and their SAT very seriously. The scores on both can have an impact on your future.
Think of it in this way- it is the score you receive on your SAT that will determine which educational institution you attend but it is your PSAT score that will be the starting point for your financial assistance in terms of such things as National Merit Scholarships.
The test you take consist of three sections and is marked out of 80. In other words, each section equals 80 points and therefore the three taken make up 240 points. A student who makes a score over 200 points is placed in the 99th percentile and would be in the running for a National Merit Scholarship. If you are fortunate enough to make it to the semi-finals then from there your outstanding academic achievement has been recognized. At this point the potential to be offered more than one scholarship is very great! This is why doing your very best on your Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is so significant to your future success at obtaining a scholarship.
To apply for a National Merit Scholarship once you reach the semi-final stage you must fill out an application form to request the financial funding you require. From there a panel of judges will consider all of the applicants and will choose the scholarship winners or recipients. Besides the application form it is also necessary for the applicant to write an essay about him or herself and to make a list of all achievements as well as activities that he or she has participated in, both in an academic setting and otherwise. The money to fund these scholarships comes from a selection of large American corporations.