What is the PSAT?

The PSAT is a “practice” SAT test—same format as the SAT, but shorter and without the essay. Your PSAT score looks pretty much the same as your SAT score, except it doesn’t have the extra zero. Thus, a 49 on the PSAT translates to a 490 on the SAT.

While you don’t have to take the PSAT, most kids simply pay the $15 to their counselors and take it in October of their junior year.

Whether you eventually make the ACT or SAT your test of choice, you should certainly take the PSAT as a junior not only because it’s good practice but also because you will get the answer key and your actual test booklet back! This is really useful, because you can see how your pencil work within the booklet (or lack of pencil work ☹) translated into your answers…. and adjust accordingly in the future.

Many schools encourage their sophomores to the take the PSAT as well. Again, you don’t necessarily have to take it as a tenth grader, either, but if you’re serious about test prep, you might as well.  If your school doesn’t offer the PSAT to sophomores, or if you are homeschooled, you can take the PSAT at another school. Just go to this link:


Is there a Practice ACT?

There is. It’s called the ACT PLAN. Shoot, the ACT even has a middle-school version of its test called the ACT EXPLORE.

Few schools offer these tests, though. But if you are interested, visit the ACT PLAN page here: