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Is it worth it to take the PSAT w/o having done Algebra 1?

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I have two kids old enough for the PSATs this year. One is a 15yo 10th grader who should be done with Alegbra 1 by PSAT time (Oct). We've taken CAT and the IOWA tests before and learned that her Eng skills are just fine.... her vocab is 'college level'. Yet this is the kid that wants to be a medical doctor. It's catch up time on math.


My other one is 14yo 9th grader who is finishing up Pre-Algebra and will be doing Algebra 1 this year. He gets math faster but is a bit weaker in Eng than his sister. He's the bright boy who is held back by his spacey, forgetful nature. He's more apt to becoming the Engineer or a marine.


From what I understand, the PSATs 'count' in 11th grade for the scholarship; prior to that they are just practice. So I'm wondering if it is worth the study time & effort to take them this year with either or both kids, considering their math level is below what will be on the test.




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I don't think you can go wrong by giving them the practice in taking the test.

Just make sure that your son isn't discouraged by what he doesn't know, that he knows this is just practice for when it does count.

My dd took the PSAT only one time, last fall in 11th grade. She scored 212, missing the threshold by just one point!

How I wish I had given her opportunity to take it several years ahead of time. I have no doubt she would have scored comfortably - Her results didn't reflect what she is capable of considering her scores in the ACT and SAT.

For my next 2, I will definitely give them practice ahead of time.

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I'd have them both take the PSAT as sophomores, then they have experience with it to take it for real as juniors.


To give them an idea what to expect, have them do the practice test that comes along with signing up and/or check a practice book out of the library.



IMO it's absolutely worth a practice run before the real one junior year, but I don't think more than one practice is super necessary when there are books that can do the same.


I'm also having my middle and youngest sons do the ACT in April of their sophomore years so they can be prepared for testing that counts junior year. I wish I had done that with my oldest, but he did just fine for his college needs without it. I just think it would have been easier on him.

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I'll have to disagree if they haven't taken geometry too. If they have taken goemtery than maybe that would be OK.


At my dd's first ACT there were several middle school children (I know this comparison is a lot younger). All but one of them freaked out. Several were crying, one left in the middle of math and most stopped doing the test before it was finished.


I think trying to take a test you're not able to complete can only produce test anxiety, which can follow them for years.


If you want to give them practice, order a couple of old PSAT tests from Collegeboard, in their store, and give them to them when they've completed Algebra 1.

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I agree with Michelle. I think it will only produce test anxiety. Practice with practice tests at home. For your 10th grader, you may want to have her take the ACT in April and use that for your required test. ACTs aren't required to be reported to colleges and yet they are a regular test given in an unfamiliar setting. You can have her take it without writing and it will cost less and be shorter. If you take the APril test, you can order the answers so you can go over what she gets wrong. I would also have her practice either PSAT or SAt exams at home. But this way you can finish Algebra 1 and be well into Geometry before any testing happens.

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