What is the difference between the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT?
The PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and SAT are all part of the SAT Suite of Assessments, an aligned group of exams that measure student achievement in the areas of evidence-based reading and writing and mathematics. Details about the SAT Suite of Assessments can be found here.
The PSAT/NMSQT is an alternate version of the PSAT 10. The PSAT/NMSQT is used exclusively for the purposes of the National Merit Scholarship Competition. The PSAT 10 is used by High School District 211 to gauge students’ academic achievement and growth.
When do students take the PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, PSAT/NMSQT, and SAT?
The PSAT 8/9 and PSAT 10 are District-sponsored exams. There is no need to register or pay for these exams. Students take the PSAT 8/9 in the fall of the 8th grade year as a placement exam for freshmen year coursework. Students take the PSAT 8/9 again, in the spring of freshman year, to verify academic achievement and growth. The PSAT 10 is taken in the spring of sophomore year to demonstrate further illustration of academic growth.
Students may choose to take the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall of the 11th grade year. This optional assessment exclusively provides opportunities for scholarship awards associated with the National Merit Scholarship Program. Students electing to take the PSAT/NMSQT must register and pay for the exam.
Students take the State-sponsored SAT in the spring of junior year to satisfy a State of Illinois requirement and to receive a valid college entrance score. There is no need to register or pay for this exam. Students have the opportunity to register and pay for an SAT exam on any national test date sponsored by the College Board. National SAT test dates are available here.
What is the recommended timeline for students to begin preparing for the SAT?
The College Board recommends students focus on their high school coursework and practice for the SAT using the Khan Academy, as opposed to other specific test preparation activities. The College Board offers a 16-week guide to the SAT to help high school juniors create a plan prior to sitting for the SAT for the first time. The 16-week study plan is available here.
Can you describe the Khan Academy test preparation resource? How do students access the Khan Academy? Is there a cost to using this service?
The Khan Academy is a free resource available to all students preparing to take the SAT. Students must establish an individual Khan Academy account and can link that account with their College Board account to establish a personalized SAT practice plan. Information about linking a Khan Academy account and a College Board account is available here.
What is the recommended sequence of high school coursework prior to a student taking the SAT?
The College Board does not have a recommended sequence, but believes that challenging coursework, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses, can be beneficial to preparing students for college level work.