PSAT prep for second child

<p>My daughter will have the PSAT this coming October. Will taking an SAT prep course help her? She is a good student just needs experience with tests.</p>

<p>Or should I buy her a PSAT prep book or online course? </p>

<p>If this can help her reach National Merit, then I want to help her.</p>

<p>It really depends on what kind of student she is. A lot of folks on this board are strong proponents of self-study, which is great, but only for students who are very strongly self-motivated. Working with a book or online course requires a fair amount of commitment from the student. </p>

<p>A course is nice because it's a structured environment that will force your daughter to concentrate on PSAT prep for a certain number of hours a week. If she would have trouble finding the time and energy on her own, it's a good way to go.</p>

<p>Preparation for standard tests helps most students. The PSAT is a "mini-SAT", so a formal SAT prep course would work, with the added benefit of setting the stage for the SAT exam, which your D should consider taking at the end of Junior year.</p>

<p>But formal preparation is not necessary. Self study can work.</p>

<p>It sounds like your D did not take the PSAT as a practice exam in sophomore year. So taking some practice tests before October is prudent. The various preparation books work well if they are used -- something that is not that easy to motivate a teenager to do. But if that's not an issue for you and your D, have her take a practice exam from the book. Then identify the questions that she didn't quite get (either because she guessed, or skipped). Review more questions of that type. Then do another practice test, and repeat. There isn't a great deal of time between now and October, so you may want to start the process now.</p>

<p>Please be aware if your student is a minority (african american or hispanic) there are other awards/designations for doing well on the 11th grade PSAT. </p>

<p>I had no idea --I thought of the PSAT as not very meaningful and unlikely for my son to be a NMS since 10th grade he had a good but not stellar score. He is not the self study kind of kid and I had had a good experience with Kaplan (details below) for the GRE. Based on these factors, I signed him up for a Kaplan SAT course for junior year early (big discount for earlybirds) and they offered 6 free PSAT prep classes in September. He half heartedly attended a few of these because I am a big fan of all things free but we expected to see little impact. His PSAT went from a 176 in 10th grade to a 201 in 11th grade after attending a few prep sessions...too low for national merit but he was designated a national hispanic scholar. No scholarship from the college board but literally he won hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships based off of that designation...particularly at schools that are trying to diversify their campus and get minorities who can succeed at their selective schools. He did the full Kaplan course in Junior winter and scored a 2150 and then a 2250 on the SAT (800 English, 740 Math). Still...the PSAT hispanic scholar designation was critical for eligibility for all sorts of scholarships and the high SAT cemented them. </p>

<p>I am making it a bit of a personal goal to get more hispanic families to be aware of the importance of the 10th (for practice and awareness) and 11th grade PSAT (for NMS and NHS) and the benefits of preparing. My daughter is definitely getting the prep but unfortunately Kaplan now only offers online psat help. Not good enough. My D is a much more applied student than her brother but there are too many distractions during the summer/early fall for her to really dedicate time to what seems to be an issue long into the future--college scholarships. Frankly, it falls on the parent's pocketbook so this is the type of thing that I think a parent should be involved in if possible. I am looking for a personal tutor or small SAT class for August/September before the coursework becomes very heavy for junior year. If she does very well on the PSAT I will encourage her to take a short refresher prep class and get the SAT over ASAP her junior year--May or June. If she is like my son she may want to retake but twice should be sufficient. I point out to her that the PSAT is just one of the steps toward college and there is no harm in taking steps to have her do the best she can. If she gets a low score, no harm, but at least it wasn't for lack of prep or trying. Certainly any prep for PSAT will help with the SAT. Also, if it really is a bad test for her even after prepping she will know to look at taking the ACT instead of the SAT. </p>

<p>I really think that self prep is helpful and can be done well by some students but there is a lot more riding on these tests than some people realize. Also prep for the PSAT is prep for the SAT so it is not lost time/money. I did not prep as a high schooler but did do a GRE prep because I stopped taking formal math as an undergrad but was appllying for a very math oriented grad class. I am very quantitative oriented but I was out of shape for doing relatively easy math so ..my mock test was a 630 math and I scored a 790 after kaplan. Full fellowship for 5 years....PhD debt free.</p>

<p>It's very simple.</p>

<p>First, there are no comparisons between the GRE and the PSAT/SAT. Not in scope, not in technology not in instruction. The GRE is a computer adaptive test that is much harder to reproduce at home. The PSAT/SAT are simple paper and pencil tests that react extremely well to individual practice.</p>

<p>On a dollar invested and time spent, the generic group classes are EASILY the least effective avenue, barely inching the pro bono assistance offered by high school teachers. </p>

<p>Most parents end up spending the money for such classes because of peer pressure or for following a path of least resistance. While being better than nothing, such classes are a poor corrective for the biggest syndrome, namely the lack of motivation and interest of the student. </p>

<p>The reason why self-preparation is often cited here is because it does work, and not only for specific cases. No matter how one looks at it, there are NO secrets shared by the Kaplan or PR of this world; they offer the same advice in their 15 to 20 dollars books. There is nothing special about their instructors, and the quality of instruction range from mediocre to poor. There are very good instructors who work at Kaplan, PR, and other companies, but the chance you'll see them teaching the canned group classes is slim to none. </p>

<p>Fwiw, issues of poor motivation and dedication can easily be cured with parental support, or monetary rewards. Simply stated, if one is about to spend and waste anywhere from 600 to 1,200 on a group class, why not take the middlemen out and .... pay the kid 20 dollars per hour to read and practice?</p>

<p>All the information that is needed to bring a score within the individual possibilities of a student is widely available. </p>

<p>This said, there are cases where self-preparation is not recommended as the help of a trye professional is required. However, such cases will not be better served by group classes.</p>

<p>PS Get a couple of official PSAT tests, and have your daughter see where she stands before and after the summer.</p>

<p>Firstartsmom, I see now how doing well on the PSAT can open doors as you explained. I believe there is value in helping my daughter do her best come next October. </p>

<p>Xiggi, that is excellent advice about the parent giving incentives for self motivating the child. Paying the child to study instead of attending a prep class just might motivate my daughter because that is a large sum of money that would be hard for her to make elsewhere.</p>

<p>I am going to propose that idea and see where it goes...</p>

<p>Mae</p>

<p>Xiggi, Stumbled on your post - as in the past, it hits a nerve. it was total self prep with my older D - and it worked.
my second D is different - not structured, goes on and on about hating math - i have to literally sit with her to do the tests.
but paying her to do this goes against my grain (i am indian, you see!!)
are there any psat test available to download - as with the SAT's?</p>

<p>appreciate your advice.
thanks, a</p>

<p>Unfortunately, the College Board stopped selling old PSAT booklets in December 2010. You may be able to get some from the high school; they should definitely have the current PSAT practice test booklet, which has a test. I would get this just to be familiar with the shorter format of the PSAT, as well as to get a reliable PSAT score measurement, but otherwise you can prepare for the PSAT by preparing for the SAT.</p>

<p>PSAT</a> Practice Tests</p>

<p>I see some old tests listed on Amazon.</p>

<p>Amazon.com:</a> PSAT</p>

<p>You have to take a test and see where you are with reference to national merit in your State. If you are off 30-40 points, self preparation may not help and you need access to the test banks some of the tutorials people keep (the one my kid went to had close to 30 PSAT tests and all one had to do is sign for taking a test on Saturdays and sundays to make use of them). </p>

<p>Self prep works only for the driven and not everyone. The problem is everyone on CC seems to think everything can be done self prep. We as parents need to size up reality vs CC because doing well with selfprep is very uncommon outside of CC.</p>

<p>^I would suggest not using non-College Board practice tests (the first link) to determine score ranges; the results are not likely to be very accurate. Those old tests on Amazon would work fine, but they are a lot more than the $3 that they used to cost on collegeboard.com ...</p>

<p>Collegeboard has solutions for a practice test but not the test (I could nt locate it). If I remember correctly, they suggest going to the school counselor to pick one up.</p>