Why are PSAT and PACT important?

Rohan Mathew

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What is PSAT?

PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT with a series of different assessments: PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and PSAT 8/9. The PSAT acts as a precursor to the SAT, which is the gold standard for admission into most US colleges and universities. The SAT and PSAT have a similar format, scoring, and structure. The PSAT has fewer questions and is considered more manageable than the SAT as there is no essay section in the PSAT.

What is PACT?

PACT is the ACT version of the PSAT. It is used as a predictor of how students can perform on the ACT. Most students only take either the SAT or ACT, but an increasing number of students are taking both to increase their chances of getting accepted by their desired schools.

Why are PSAT and PACT important?

Determines strengths

PSAT and PACT can help students determine their strengths and aptitude for standardized exams. The performance on the PSAT or PACT can help students set a realistic goal about their scores in the standardized tests. It can also indicate how far they need to go up on the improvement ladder to reach their desired score. It provides students with actionable data on planning for admissions and strategy for taking standardized tests. There are lots of methods on how to manage the time during the test best or how to make calculated guesses and knowing your strengths can significantly help with decision making during exams.

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Determined weaknesses

Taking PSAT and PACT can highlight areas of improvement for students. Once the weakness has been identified, it can help students make a plan on how to overcome that weakness. For example, if the student has determined that their English vocabulary is their weakness, they can work on specific exercises that improve vocabulary, such as using vocabulary flashcards. The PSAT and PACT don’t rely on memory; They are based on reasoning and critical thinking which is why it is crucial to understand the concept behind the question.

Help with scholarships

Students who take the PSAT or the PCAT get to enter into several types of merit-based scholarship programs. For example, the National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSP) is awarded based on scores of the PSAT. There are three types of scholarship offered by the NMSP – National Merit Scholarship, College- Sponsored Scholarship and a Corporation Based Scholarship.

Colleges don’t get to see your PSAT or PACT scores unless you authorize them to. However, if you have achieved high scores, you can authorize colleges to view your score, and that can significantly help you in getting selected. You can get access to scholarships, grants, and merit-based loans from the colleges itself. For some high achievers on PSAT or PACT, the scholarship could be a way to get a free ride through college.

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Indicate future SAT performance

As the PSAT and PACT are a precursor to standardized exams such as SAT, they can be an indicator of future performance in SATs. Some students can improve dramatically through hard work, practice and strategy and the PSAT and PACT can provide an indicative future SAT performance based on where the student stands at that moment. Their scoring might not be identical; for example, the SAT is based out of 1600 whereas the PSAT is out of 1520, but it can provide a baseline on where you stand in preparation for the SAT.

Boost confidence

By practising on PSAT and PACT, students can get a major confidence boost. Practice makes perfect is an often overused expression, but still stands true. When students get to practice PSAT and PACT, they tend to be more confident in taking standardized tests. The practice helps them stay calm, be more decisive, use their time better, and get into a habit of being able to take the pressure of exam conditions. With practice, the format and structure become familiar too. The more you practice, the more confident you will be on exam day.