In your sophomore or junior year of high school, if you live in the United States, you will take a series of test called the PSAT. It will measure your critical reading skills, math ability and your writing skills. It is noted as the PSAT because it is the preliminary test associated with giving a teenager a taste of what it would be like to take the actual SAT test in their senior high school year. The SAT is a college admissions tests that often determines the college you get accepted into. The higher the score the better because you are more likely to get into the school of your choice.
However, there is a tendency to disregard the PSAT as a practice run when it can in fact have a massive impact on your future in terms of scholarships and other financial awards that are made to individuals as they head off to college for the first time. In truth then, the SAT determines which college you go to, in accordance with all round school performance of course, but it is the PSAT that may give you the head start that you need via National Merit Scholarships.
The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test is marked out of 80 in all three sections, meaning a total of 240 points are available. However, if an individual were to score over 200 then he or she would be placed in the 99th percentile and would then go onward and one step closer to being chosen for a National Merit Scholarship. Individuals progressing to the semi-finals, or those that come in that percentile to put it plainly, are recognised for outstanding academic achievement, but it is the offer of a scholarship that makes it all worthwhile. Doing well on the PSAT could ultimately save a lot of hassle later on when it actually comes to applying for various scholarships!
If you are lucky enough to get to the semi-final stage then you can actually apply for a National Merit Scholarship. In truth, this is simply filling out an application form for the funding, and a panel of judges chooses the winners of the scholarships. The application consists of a regular scholarships form, an essay about yourself and a list of every single achievement, as well as a list of the activities that you have taken part in, both inside and out of school. This is then reviewed along with your academic record before the winners are chosen and awarded a scholarship to take with them wherever they choose.
The money for the Nation Merit Scholarships comes from various large American corporations. Many of them offer their own scholarships, but smaller. In effect, a National Merit Scholarship is one of the most prestigious to be awarded because you would be competing with the entire country of children your age to try and win it. It can be extremely competitive but the goal must not be lost. A scholarship like that could most definitely help you when it came to affording college, and the prestige that came along with it could actually help you to get into the college of your choice! In truth, the PSAT is there to gauge what level you are at in terms of your peers and should be used as a practice run for the actual SATs, but with a little bit of an edge!
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