Will you or your child be taking the PSAT in 2018? Are you wondering what day the exam will be held? The PSAT is different from other standardized tests, such as the SAT and ACT, because you cannot choose which day you’d like to take the exam.
When will this test date be? What if you can’t make it? This guide will answer both those questions, as well as explain the importance of PSAT scores, when you can expect to receive your scores, and how you can prepare for the exam.
How Is the PSAT Administered?
When you take the SAT and/or the ACT, you’ll have a choice of test centers and dates to choose from. This isn’t the case with the PSAT. With the PSAT, you’ll take the exam during the school day (unless the exam is on a Saturday) at your high school, on a date that has been predetermined by the College Board, the makers of the PSAT.
The College Board offers a primary test date and an alternate test date, and each school decides which date they will administer the PSAT on. The College Board recommends using the primary test date, and the vast majority of schools will choose that date to administer the PSAT.
Generally, schools will only choose the alternate test date if there are circumstances that make it impossible for them to choose the primary test date. You’ll have to take the PSAT on the date that your school offers it.
What Are the Expected PSAT Dates for 2018?
What will the PSAT test date be for 2018? Here are the official 2018 PSAT test dates:
- Primary test date: October 10, 2018 (a Wednesday)
- Alternate test date: October 24, 2018 (a Wednesday)
- Saturday test date: October 13, 2018 (a Saturday)
As mentioned above, each school will choose a test date and inform its students in advance as to when that date will be. Most schools choose the primary test date, which, for 2018, will be October 10.
What If You Miss Your PSAT Date?
What if you can’t take the PSAT on the date your school is offering it? Are there any other options if you’re sick or absent that day?
Yes! If you miss the PSAT exam date, you may still be able to retake the test. In order to do so, you must contact the National Merit Scholarship Corporation in writing by March 1st.
On their website, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation states, “A student who does not take the PSAT/NMSQT because of illness, an emergency, or other extenuating circumstance, but meets all other requirements for NMSC program participation, may still be able to enter the competition. The student or a school official must write to NMSC as soon as possible after the PSAT/NMSQT administration to request information about procedures for alternate entry to the National Merit Scholarship Program. The earlier NMSC receives the written request, the greater the student's opportunities for meeting alternate entry requirements. To be considered, a request must be postmarked no later than March 1 following the PSAT/NMSQT administration that was missed. NMSC will provide alternate entry materials that require the signature of a school official.”
For most people, the only reason to try and make up the PSAT would be if you’re aiming for National Merit. If you just wanted to use the PSAT as practice for the SAT, it’s much easier to take a timed practice test on your own time rather than go through the whole process of making up the PSAT.
If you miss the PSAT, you may still have another chance to take it.
When Will You Receive Your PSAT Scores?
After you take the PSAT, how quickly will you receive your scores? You can expect to get your PSAT scores in January, so about three months after you take the exam.
Sometime in January, typically in the middle of the month, you’ll receive an email telling you that you can view your scores on your College Board account. Your school counselor will receive access to the scores the day before. By the end of the month, your school should also issue paper score reports to all students who took the PSAT.
Your score report will include your total score (from 320-1520), two section scores in Evidence Based Reading and Writing as well as Math (from160-760), three test scores in Reading, Writing and Language, and Math (from 8-38), as well as several other subscores so you can see how well you did on specific areas of the test. Your score report will also include your Selection Index Score (ranging from 48 to 228), which will give you an idea if you quality for National Merit.
PSAT scores are important for two main reasons. First, they give you an idea of how well you’d perform on the actual SAT and where your strengths and weaknesses are. Second, juniors who take the PSAT have the chance to qualify for National Merit awards and scholarships if they score very well on the test.
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How to Prepare for the PSAT
To get ready for the PSAT, follow these three tips to help ensure you get your best score on test day.
Step 1: Become Familiar With the Exam
You want to sit down on test day knowing exactly what to expect from the PSAT. This means you should be familiar with the format of the exam, how long the exam will be, and when you get breaks. We have an introduction to the PSAT to get you started.
Once you feel solid with that general information, start looking at the exam more in-depth. What types of questions will be asked in each section? What subjects will they be on? How will they be worded? How many questions are in each section. Check out a more in-depth guide to the PSAT as well as a guide on how the PSAT is scored.
By learning this information, you’ll be able to focus your studying more effectively, and you won’t be tripped up by any surprises on test day.
Step 2: Create a Study Plan
When you create a study plan, it’s easier to track your progress, and you’re more likely to study. Create a schedule of when you’ll study each week. It helps if you can choose a regular time, such as 5-7pm Tuesdays and Thursdays or 12-3pm on Saturdays, because you’ll be more likely to remember to study and not double-book yourself.
Also, set regular goals you want to meet each week or month, such as a topic you want to understand better or a score goal you want to meet.
Creating a study plan will make your PSAT preparation more focused and effective, and you’ll be able to see if you’re making the progress you want.
Step 3: Take Practice Tests
One of the best ways to prepare for the PSAT is to take practice exams. These practice exams will give you an idea of how well you’ll score on the real thing and let you know which areas you should focus your studying on. We have links to free official PSATs you can take to help you prepare.
In order to get the most out of these tests, you should take the test timed, in one sitting, and with minimal distractions. This will help you get the most accurate score.
Like chess, when you practice the PSAT your skills will improve.
Recap: PSAT Test Dates 2018
Unlike other standardized tests, the PSAT is only offered once a year. The primary test date for 2018 is October 10, with alternate test days offered on October 24 and October 13. Your school will choose which day it will administer the PSAT, with most schools choosing the primary test date.
If you miss that test date, it’s still possible to make up the PSAT by writing to National Merit.
The PSAT is important as preparation for the SAT and as the way to qualify for National Merit. To help yourself do well on the exam, you can become familiar with the test, create a study plan, and take practice exams.
Not happy with your initial PSAT results? Here's everything you need to do to raise your PSAT score.
What PSAT score do you need to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship? Find out by reading this guide!
How does the PSAT differ from the SAT? Learn the four key differences between these two exams to help with your future studying.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.