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8th Graders, Testing, and Scholarships

8th Graders, Testing, Jobs, and Scholarships (PSAT)

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Do you plan to attend college?  Would you like a scholarship?  Many people have pondered this. The good news is that you can start planning and financing your education long before you start an application.

Know first about the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) and ACT (American College Testing Program) college entrance exams.  These four-hour tests are offered by two different companies, yet are used together or separately for admissions by most four-year colleges and universities.

Private donors also consult SAT and ACT scores when awarding scholarships, as do a surprising number of employers after graduation for hiring college graduates.

The PSAT (Preliminary SAT) takes about 3 hours and is given only in the fall.  Long Beach Unified students do not have to pay the fee to take the PSAT and the test is being given to all LBUSD students grades 8-11 on Oct. 14th.  Taking this test in grades 8, 9, 10 or 11 is a very good way to prepare yourself for the SAT and/or ACT.  

The PSAT is much more than just a practice test.  PSAT scores in 11th grade qualify students for National Merit Scholarships, which have been called “the country’s most prestigious academic awards”.  Over five thousand National Merit Scholarships of $2,500 up are awarded annually, based on PSAT scores and the other requirements of the competition.  Many businesses and community groups use PSAT scores to award grants and scholarships.  (If you are taking the PSAT for scholarships, begin no later than the 10th grade so that you can have a trial run. )

You may in fact take the ACT in any grade from 6th grade onward (there is a limit of one dozen times total).  Most students don’t take the SAT until their junior or senior year in high school, but at least half take the SAT twice — in the spring of their junior year and in the fall of their senior year.  The majority of SAT takers do in fact improve their scores the second time around.

A practice session on these standardized tests will almost certainly help you score higher next time you take it.  The PSAT in particular is designed so that its items and sections correspond closely to the SAT.  Actual test conditions let you try pacing yourself under strict time limits and work with guessing strategies, such as process of elimination.  These strategies can reduce your stress and test anxiety.

In other words, focus on practice and preparation to maximize your chance of doing well on the PSAT, SAT and/or ACT.   Don’t forget to focus on your schoolwork, to develop your academic skills, and to use every test score you receive to set goals.  And where should this begin? … In middle school, of course!!

Note:  This year's PSAT is scheduled for Wednesday, October 14.  All LBSUD 8th-10th graders will have an opportunity to try it.  For students, it's a chance to find out what you know and can do!  Click here for more detailed information on the PSAT.