On October 12th and 15th about 1.6 million high school sophomores and an equal number of high school juniors will take the PSAT. The students will have 2 hours and 20 minutes to answer 48 Critical Reading questions, 38 Math questions, and 39 Writing questions. These questions are designed to measure key academic skills. Interestingly, PSAT scores will not be used as part of the college admission process.

If you are reading my Blog you are probably either one of these 3.2 million students or one of their parents. So why are you or your children preparing for the PSAT? Although the PSAT is not a college admission test there are three major reasons why students take the test. First, it will provide valuable feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on key skills needed for college study. Second, it will help you prepare for the much longer SAT. And third, it will enable you to enter the competition for recognition and college scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Winning a National Merit Scholarship is not easy. Of the 1.6 million juniors who take the 2011 test, only about 50,000 will qualify for recognition. More than two-thirds of this group will receive Letters of Commendation. About 16,000 will become Semifinalists and 15,000 will go on to become Finalists.

So, is preparing for the PSAT worth the time and effort? I strongly believe it is. I have taught a large number of students who have earned recognition and college scholarships. Without exception, each one of these students has told me that the PSAT program played a positive role in their careers. Famous National Merit Scholars include Ben Bernanke the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and Stephenie Meyer the author of the Twilight series. (You might be interested to know that Dr. Bernanke was a member of the Board of Education in Montgomery New Jersey that hired me! Sorry, but I don’t know Stephenie Meyer).

The materials in my PSAT Test Center are expressly designed to help you answer difficult PSAT questions. These challenging questions can be the keys to earning a National Merit Scholarship. Nothing would please me more than to help you become part of the distinguished Honor Roll of National Merit Scholars!

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