Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

Parents: Understand the PSAT Test and SAT Test Cycle

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT reading passage questions Parents usually ask: When should my child take the PSAT? Should they study for the PSAT? When should they take the SAT? What are good SAT scores? How many times should they take the SAT? The answers to those questions in general is what I call the SAT Cycle. Let’s explore this some more….

Parents: Understand the PSAT and SAT Test Cycle (transcript)

Parents often ask me questions that include: When should my child take the PSAT? Should they study for the PSAT? When should they take the SAT? How many times should they take the SAT? The answer to all those questions in general involves the SAT cycle. Typically your child’s school will sign your child up for the PSAT in the fall of junior year. So the school is either going to sign your child up or invite your child to sign up for that test in the Fall of junior year. Should you prepare? Should you have your child prepare for the PSAT? It all depends. Some people go in and use the PSAT as a baseline to then decide how much work they need to do for the SAT. Or some parents push their child to prepare for the PSAT knowing that their child can prepare for National Merit Scholarship based on a PSAT score. There is some incentive to study for it and do as well as you can but on the other hand you can use it as a baseline and just figure out where your child is.

After the PSAT they take it usually in October their junior year the results don’t come back until December. There is a long wait to get the results back. When you get the results back sometimes parents panic they’re like “Oh my gosh, my kid didn’t do that well we need to do something about this.” That’s the time to start preparing for the SAT. If your child did well do worry about it. Tell them great job keep doing what you and doing in school. You are going to take the SAT in the Spring and the school will once again sign your child up for the first SAT of junior year which is typically in March. They are either going to sign your child up again or invite your child to sign up.

They all go in as a junior class and they take it in March and after that you are on your own. If you want your child to take it again you need to sign your child up. There is an opportunity after March that comes in May, June and Summer break. During senior year your child still has a few opportunities. There is usually one in October, November, December and the last chance is January of senior year.

How many times should your child take it? Have your child take it as many times as he/she needs to maximize their score; whatever that may be. For some kids it is going to be somewhere around 1800, 1500 and for others it’s a perfect score; 2400. So get a sense for what your child’s abilities are and push them to maximize their score. Don’t give up until you are satisfied with the score that they have gotten. Once they have done that they will have a lot of work to do on filling out applications.

The message to parents is this: Keep supporting your child; be with them the whole way. I encourage you to take the long view on your child. What I mean by that is every child will develop at his/her own pace. Some kids just are not ready for standardized test under time conditions. So stick with your child, they are capable of amazing things they just may not be able to do it when society wants them to do it. So hang in there keep encouraging them but that concludes the SAT cycle. Hopefully that information will help you make good decisions for your child.

Karl Schellscheidt

Copyright 2006 — All Rights Reserved, ePrep, Inc.

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