PSAT/NMSQT & the PLAN (Pre-ACT)
How the PSAT/NMSQT and PLAN tests can help you get into college.
You can take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT test) and the PLAN (Pre-ACT) test when you are in 10th or 11th grade in high school. The scores you get on these tests won’t count toward college admissions but they can give you an idea of how well you’ll do on the SAT or ACT, and those tests will be an important part of your college application and help determine if you’re accepted into your top colleges and universities.
Although both are standardized tests that assess your academic knowledge and readiness for college, the PSAT and PLAN are different in what they cover and how they test your skills. Learn more about the two tests to help you determine which is right for you.
The PSAT and PLAN tests are a great way to assess how well you’re doing in your high school and what your position is compared with other students who also took the tests.
Why You Should Take the PSAT/NMSQT
The PSAT/NMSQT tests critical reading, math and writing skills and provides you with practice for the SAT, letting you know how well you would do on your SAT test if you took it today. If you’re in the 11th grade, taking the PSAT also makes you eligible to compete for scholarships from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).
Although your scores on the PSAT/NMSQT won't affect your college admissions, they will give you feedback on the strengths and weaknesses in your education and help you start thinking about college majors or even possible careers. You can also use this information to find tutors, programs or courses to help you improve in the areas you scored lowest in.
Why You Should Take the PLAN Test
What the PSAT is to the SAT, PLAN is to the ACT. PLAN is a pre-ACT test students normally take when they are in 10th grade. Like SAT scores, ACT test scores are taken in serious consideration by colleges and universities when determining admissions.
The PLAN test includes sections on reading, math and writing, just like the PSAT does. Unlike the PSAT, the PLAN also tests your science and English skills, but it does not include a writing section like the PSAT does. You will be tested on what you've learned in high school, so you can use the PLAN test to help you determine what types of courses to focus on in high school and in college.
Why These Tests Are Important
The PSAT and PLAN tests are a great way to assess how well you’re doing in your high school and what your position is compared with other students who also took the tests. They can also help you find the college and university options that suit you best academically.
Both the PLAN and the PSAT tests ask you some questions about your goals and plans for the future, in order to help you find a college that meets your needs and decide what type of program, major and degree best fits your abilities.
PSAT/NMSQT & the PLAN Tips & Tactics
- When you’re doing your Campus Explorer college search, make sure you take a look at each university's requirements. Most schools offering bachelors degrees require or recommend a certain minimum score on the ACT and/or the SAT, so your scores on the PLAN and PSAT will give you an idea of your likelihood of getting in.
- Students planning to pursue community college programs, get online degrees or take distance learning courses should contact the schools they’re considering to find out if they require the SAT or ACT for placement purposes.
- When you get your test scores, schedule a meeting with your high school counselor to discuss your college options and how to improve your scores when you take the SAT or ACT.
- If you find the college of your dreams is above your range, don’t worry! There are prep programs that can help; check out all three to find the program that best suits your needs:
- Not sure which test to take? Ask your guidance counselor to help you determine which testing style suits you best and which test is preferred at the schools you’re likely to apply to.
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