SAT Advice (General) Post

October PSAT vs. October/November/December SATs for Juniors

Hi everyone,

Wow...what a busy start to the school year.  Summer was too short, as always! 

Anyway,  I haven't had time to blog much lately, but there's an important "frequently asked question" I'd like to answer for parents of high school juniors:  many of you are asking whether it makes sense for your student to take the October/November/December SATs, in addition to the October PSAT. 

My answer is yes; your student should take as many SATs as possible, starting now.  Although your student is unlikely to receive his/her highest SAT score during the fall round of tests, it's worth a shot since the College Board now allows you to send only your best score from any one test date to colleges.  The fall SATs will also serve as a more accurate predictor of a student's future SAT score, because while the PSAT is only two hours long, the real SAT is almost 4 hours long!

Also, if your student is currently working with another SAT tutor or taking an SAT-prep course from another company, the fall round of SATs (3 tests total) could help serve as a "progress report" to see if the SAT-prep program you chose is actually making a difference.    Remember that most companies do not use real SATs for their practice tests, so you shouldn't trust the score improvements you see on a company score report unless your student is also taking real SATs at the same time. 

As an added bonus, SAT scores are returned in about 3 weeks, while PSAT scores sometimes take up to three months to be released.   This will give you more time to help your student put together a SAT and/or ACT test-prep plan for the remainder of the year.  (Believe me, no student wants to worry about SATs and ACTs during his/her senior year, so you're better off preparing now.)

However, students should still take and/or study for the PSAT, especially if they are high scorers.  High PSAT scores can help one earn scholarships such as the National Merit Scholarship, and PSAT score ranges are also used by colleges to help assemble their mailing lists.  While colleges do not see the student's actual PSAT scores, they may ask the College Board for the mailing information of students whose PSAT scores are in a certain range.    A good PSAT score will help put students "on the radar" at countless prospective colleges. 

In short: take both tests! 




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