When should my child start preparing for the PSAT/NMQST and SAT?

Immediately. It’s never too early to begin preparing for your child’s future, especially when it’s a matter of $100,000. I recommend starting PSAT/NMQST prep by eighth grade at the latest.

The PSAT/NMQST is only offered once a year in October and it ONLY counts for the National Merit Contest in a student’s junior year. Therefore, they should learn the techniques and patterns found on these tests early so that when it counts, they will be ready. However, the SAT is offered seven times a year, but statistics show that most students wait until their senior year to start preparing for this test. HUGE MISTAKE! Not only does this strategy add to the already mounting pressure of leaving high school, but it also shortens their time to improve, thus making it more difficult for them to raise their scores. We have taught numerous sixth and seventh graders on how to ace the SAT and PSAT.

How soon should a student start learning your information?

I get phone calls daily from people who want to register for my class right before an actual SAT. The truth is that the longer you wait, the less time you have to improve. Cramming for any test is never a good idea. Students should start learning about the SAT and PSAT/NMSQT at least in eighth grade, . They should have good knowledge of Algebra 1 and 2 as well as Geometry by the end of tenth grade. They should be prepared by their junior year to take the PSAT/NMSQT, since a student is only eligible for The National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in the eleventh grade.

Is it true that my eighth grader can take the PSAT for practice?

Yes, students can take the PSAT 8/9 now. The College Board states that students can take it “multiple” times. Here are some links to confirm this:




We HIGHLY recommend that younger students take the PSAT/NMSQT because it helps them get familiar with the testing environment and they can receive their test booklet back so they can access their weaknesses.

When should a student take his first SAT?

That depends on how early he or she learns the importance of the test. Here is no age limit on taking the test. If they are in ninth grade, they should work on practice tests at home. Ideally when they are scoring around 1200 then it is a good idea to sign them up for the real test. A good scenario would be that the student receives the desired score he or she wanted before his or her senior year. This can take the pressure off a year already full of college decisions, final exams and graduating. Of course, if the student learns the significance of this test somewhere in eleventh or twelfth grade, then he or she should make the SAT a priority and practice as much as possible at home (hopefully reaching around 1200 before test time). Then the student should schedule as many real tests as possible, especially since a senior has only a few opportunities to take the test.

Why do many seventh graders take the SAT?

There are talent searches such as the Duke TIP letter that students can qualify for and take the SAT in their seventh grade year. This is a prestigious program that will look good on a student’s transcript because it shows maturity and focus at a young age. It gives the student the opportunity for an award ceremony, name in the paper, state recognition and scholarships to various programs.

How many times can the SAT be taken?

There are no limits on taking the SAT and most colleges will Super Score. (This means they take the highest scores from different tests to give an overall higher score.)

Do I have to send in all the scores? Why send scores so early to colleges?

No. Score Choice allows students to pick the scores they want and send them to the schools whenever they want. This is why younger students (6-7th grade) should start taking the SAT because there is no pressure on them.