Odysseus fought a cyclops. Athena sprang from Zeus’s head. Achilles had one weakness: his heel. When you hear the word “myth,” these images probably come to mind. (Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, anyone?) While these stories are enjoyable tales of heroes and gods, of strength and wit, not all myths are innocuous stories; some are actually quite harmful.
Look at the PSAT, for example. In less than a month, most high schoolers will take the PSAT exam. What does that mean for you? You need to start preparing for the test, because, believe it or not, it is not to be taken lightly. While many people consider the PSAT a “dress rehearsal” for the real SAT, it is anything but. In fact, there are three serious myths that need to be dispelled with regards to the PSAT--myths that will do you more harm than good.
MYTH #1. PSAT is a practice test for the real SAT.
The PSAT’s sole purpose is not to give students a mandatory practice test so they have some idea of how they will do on the actual SAT. Instead, the PSAT is the test used to qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship. You may have heard of National Merit Semifinalists; these are determined through PSAT scores during junior year. So while it would be nice to think that you can relax and treat the test like a practice run, the truth is that PSAT carries nearly as much importance as the real SAT.
MYTH #2. PSAT is easier than the real SAT.
PSAT is not meant to be a simpler version of the SAT. Even though the PSAT does not include the essay and it reduces the length of the reading and math sections, the test has the same types of questions and content as the SAT. What you see on the PSAT is what you should expect to see on the SAT. (Obviously not the exact same questions!)
MYTH #3. PSAT only matters during junior year.
Not true. College Board wants to ensure that students take the PSAT earlier, so they have partnered with new scholarship programs to use test scores from earlier years, such as the PSAT 10, to qualify students for scholarships other than National Merit. Also, even without these scholarship programs, it will be useful to practice taking the PSAT as the “real deal” earlier in your high school career, so when you take it as a junior, you will be absolutely ready to ace it.
Unlike the myths of old, those surrounding the PSAT are not worth your time. Stick with the classics, and let reality guide you: the PSAT is a test worth taking seriously, so do yourself a favor and prepare accordingly. Even if you are a freshman or a sophomore, make the most of the next month to see if you have the stuff to do well on the test. And juniors, it’s now or never to study if you want to have a chance at qualify for National Merit. Let us help you get that cutoff score everyone desires. B2A has tutors and curriculum just waiting to help you!