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We live in an area where most kids just do ACT tests.  My DD took the ACT last year, and composite was 31.  I am very happy with that score, and assume she will improve a point or two with time (she was just in 10th grade).   I am not sure if she's National Merit material- we don't do any real extra curriculars, clubs, ect.  I am not sure if we should try to stick w ACT test, and prep for that, or have her do PSAT in the fall, and start prepping now for October.  A few things - there are only 2 schools with in an hours drive that offer PSAT, it's also on a day that she has college classes- she will miss at least one class, maybe 2.  I am not sure about the following SAT test, but the 2 councilors I spoke to at these schools normally only have a handful of kids take either tests.  I may have to travel further!   Both did say anyone over 30 on the ACT they encourage to take it for NM, but how likely is it we would even be considered?  

My DD wants to take ALL THE TESTS.  SHe loves them.  She wants me to get the prep books and pay for the tests, she enjoys the challenge.  Her thoughts are that she might score a bit better on the math section (got a 29 on ACT) b/c it has more time.  I'm not sure.  I think we may be better off focusing on the ACT test, and trying to up her score to a 32 or 33.   Right now, she's right on the verge of a 2K automatic state scholarship (renewable 4 years- depends on the yearly average, so would need a 32 to be for sure, cut off has been 31 or 32 depending on the year), and she has already qualified for a 5K scholarship from the school she will most likely attend, and similar amounts from similar schools around. 

We live rural, so there aren't many schools to pick from that are within 3-4 hours, and I don't think she will want to go further than that.  We aren't looking at hard to get into places, and we are only looking at state school money-wise.  The few private ones I've looked at were still crazy expensive, even with scholarships.  We aren't going into debt for school, but will be able to afford a state school (she's the oldest of 6, so this is sort of setting the precident).  Of the few schools we are considering, getting her in will be no problem.  She will be starting DE this fall, and I expect she will have at least 50 hours before she goes to the bigger university.  

 

So, knowing all that, do we need to take the PSAT and SAT?  Or should we stick w/ ACT and just focus on that.  

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If she likes the taking tests have her take a practice SAT on khan academy and see how she does from there judge whether you want to switch.  Would the NM scholarship reduce her other scholarships? If not  try. Why couldn't she try the ACT again after she takes more math and english?

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I always encouraged my dc to pursue open doors that would result in more options rather than fewer -- a principle they have now internalized. Your dd sounds like she has a few years left before graduating. I completely understand that you can likely predict where she will be going to college based on your family priorities, other children, etc. But a lot of surprises could happen in the next three years that may wind up opening doors you never dreamed of for your dd. Some of those doors made include options where a strong SAT score or NM (as a credential) is required or helpful. Both of my dc received NM scholarships, but because they attended service academies, the NMSC converted them into "honorary scholarships." So they had the credential to include on applications/resumes, but did not wind up using the money.

My dd did not want to miss a school day DE courses to take the PSAT either, so we worked with the NMSC directly and her SAT scores were used in lieu of PSAT scores for the NM competition. Please be aware that they only offer this opportunity if there is a documentable and legitimate reason to do so. Call them directly if you want to find out more about the approval process to arrange that. It is a process (but not hard), so it cannot be done easily at the last minute.

HTH!

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OP: If, by any chance, your DD is Hispanic/Latina according to the College Board definition, then, yes, IMO, she MUST take the PSAT/NMSQT during October of her Junior year. That is also used for the National Hispanic Recognition Program, which can lead to as much as a "Full Ride", depending upon the university and the student.

Good luck to her with her thirst for test taking!   I hope she does well on all of them!

 

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My ds is in a similar situation except for the rural living part. He got the same ACT in 10th grade and will have to miss a de class. I hadn’t planned to fool with the PSAT/SAT as my dc have not been those kind of high scorers but a friend of mine who helps a lot of local kids with test prep encouraged me to have him do it based on having kids get NM who had lower ACT scores than my ds had in 10th.

So I did have him take a practice PSAT and he is close enough to our state cutoff to give it a shot. He wants to try. I’m not that excited about prepping for a one time test that is kind of a long shot for him to qualify but he can also take the SAT so it isn’t a waste of prep time. What I figured out when digging around is that for our state flagship the cutoff for the top automatic merit is lower for the SAT than the ACT if looking at concordance tables. Strange but I figure it is a way to entice out of state students because we are in ACT land. Ds also, according to the practice PSAT, projects to do a little better on the SAT. So it may be easier to qualify for that top scholarship with the SAT vs the ACT. 

So my ds is going to try the PSAT and SAT this fall and will prep pretty intensively. If he gets a good SAT score he can stick with that. Or he can decide at that time to prep for the ACT instead. So for us the ACT is on hold while he studies for the PSAT/SAT and sees how those scores shake out. 

I am concerned about missing the de class and am hoping he will get a syllabus with test dates so we know if he would miss a test. I had planned to get the de admissions rep involved if he had to miss a test for the PSAT but the process for using SAT instead is something I might need to look into.

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#1: I would look at the universities she will likely apply to & see if they have NM scholarship offers (not necessarily related to the actual NM scholarship competition). Some don't, but they should be listed under scholarships on the university's web page.

If there is a significant award, I'd go to #2.

#2: I would look to see what the usual score cut off for NM semi-finalist is for your state. Art at Compass Prep is the best one to help with that. I'd have my kid take one of the paper versions of the PSAT found on Khan Academy under "test conditions." (Like only one 5 min break) If she's close to the cutoff for your state, go to #3. If she's not close, don't worry about the PSAT.

#3: Prep using Khan & use the other PSAT practice test about a month before the real test to see how prep is going and target last minute improvement.

If you need help locating the practice tests or calculating the Selection Index from her scores, just ask.

Most (90%) of getting to National Merit Finalist is the PSAT score. A non-school-related NM Scholarship depends on the extracurricular & such but the school-related ones don't.

The best thing about NM this year is you can use an ACT score to confirm the PSAT score without taking the SAT.

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So the goal is not for NM, more for in school scholarships for NM qualifiers?  I wasn't aware of that.  I'm looking into that today.  We aren't doing a formal math this fall, w/ DE classes, so the plan was either ACT or PSAT math- she's currently doing LOF just for fun.  

 

So, to be srue I have this right- she takes the PSAT in October, hoping her score qualifies her, then she takes the SAT in the spring?  Or next fall?  When does she take the SAT?  And anything else we do, like a form to fill out?  Or is it just the test scores like the ACT?

 

And what books do you recommend for prep?  She's got 6 weeks before college classes start, but we have started our school year, and she needs something to do 🙂

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So, what I meant about specific scholarships given by colleges, take a look at U of Texas-Dallas or many Florida schools (under the Benaquisto scholarship) or U of Alabama. Most are in the south. Arizona State has a deal, too, I think. You must (generally) be a National Merit Finalist which is making Semi-Finalist, filling out the application, getting a recommendation  (endorsement), writing a essay, etc. But, that all happens a whole year after taking the PSAT so don't worry about that yet. Plenty of Hive parents have had a NM kid who can help you out.

I'd have her take the practice test & work on Khan Academy prep. Best place to start.

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On 7/8/2019 at 12:29 PM, Lanny said:

OP: If, by any chance, your DD is Hispanic/Latina according to the College Board definition, then, yes, IMO, she MUST take the PSAT/NMSQT during October of her Junior year. That is also used for the National Hispanic Recognition Program, which can lead to as much as a "Full Ride", depending upon the university and the student.

Good luck to her with her thirst for test taking!   I hope she does well on all of them!

 

 

Bummer. This is first I heard of that and my Ds would probably qualify if biomother counts rather than adoption. But deadline was July 1st.

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On 7/9/2019 at 7:40 AM, BusyMom5 said:

And what books do you recommend for prep?  She's got 6 weeks before college classes start, but we have started our school year, and she needs something to do 🙂

 

Khan Academy, Barron’s, the college board’s own prep materials... if she needs more beyond that she could go to specialized books for particular areas like math section. 

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On 7/9/2019 at 9:40 AM, BusyMom5 said:

So, to be srue I have this right- she takes the PSAT in October, hoping her score qualifies her, then she takes the SAT in the spring?  Or next fall?  When does she take the SAT?

Once she has taken a (PSAT or SAT) practice test under test conditions, compare her ACT vs SAT scores using this resource. It gives some solid advice on pursuing the other test if your score is much better on one vs the other.

Starting with this year's seniors, National Merit Semi-Finalists do not have to take the SAT to provide a confirming score if they provide a high enough ACT score in its place. So the only reason to take the SAT would be if her score on the practice exam is much better than the equivalent ACT (or a possible college still uses a wacked out concordance chart that favors the SAT).

But I'd have her take a practice PSAT on paper under timed/test conditions.

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3 hours ago, Pen said:

 

Bummer. This is first I heard of that and my Ds would probably qualify if biomother counts rather than adoption. But deadline was July 1st.

 

I am not sure which deadline is on July 1st.  Was that the deadline for signing up for the PSAT/NMSQT that will be given during October 2019?

In any event, for your DS, I strongly suggest that you read the information on the CollegeBoard.org web site about who qualifies as Hispanic/Latino for the National Hispanic Scholarship program.

Also, I strongly suggest that when he "bubbles in" the answer sheet, that he indicates that he is Hispanic/Latino.

Also, he should have a special email address only for school related emails and put that on his Answer Sheet and indicate that he is interested in hearing from schools. With a good score, he will receive emails from a lot of schools.

Good luck to him!  I suspect his biomother will qualify him but am not positive about that so you need to investigate.

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On 7/9/2019 at 4:40 AM, BusyMom5 said:

So the goal is not for NM, more for in school scholarships for NM qualifiers?  I wasn't aware of that.  I'm looking into that today.  We aren't doing a formal math this fall, w/ DE classes, so the plan was either ACT or PSAT math- she's currently doing LOF just for fun.  

 

So, to be srue I have this right- she takes the PSAT in October, hoping her score qualifies her, then she takes the SAT in the spring?  Or next fall?  When does she take the SAT?  And anything else we do, like a form to fill out?  Or is it just the test scores like the ACT?

 

And what books do you recommend for prep?  She's got 6 weeks before college classes start, but we have started our school year, and she needs something to do 🙂

The PSAT is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship compeitition.  Students take the PSAT in October of junior year.  In fall of senior year, they are informed if they are semi-finalists, based on cut off scores that vary slightly from state to state (and also change slightly from year to year). 

Semi-finalists must submit an application package to be considered for finalist status.  It includes an essay, info on high school coursework, and an endorsement from the school (or designated person for homeschoolers).  Most semi-finalists do become finalists, unless they have poor grades or a non-recommendation.

Then there are three types of scholarships available:

Corporate scholarships provided by the employer of the student's parents or may be based on where the student lives or what their career intentions are. 

University based scholarships are grants provided by a college.  Often these require that the student list that school as their first choice college.  These scholarships range from a couple thousand dollars to full tuition with housing and a stipend. 

This gives a list of the 2019 corporate sponsors and university sponsors of scholarships.  https://www.nationalmerit.org/s/1758/images/gid2/editor_documents/merit_sponsor_leaflet.pdf?gid=2&pgid=61

A much smaller number of students might receive a scholarship direct from the National Merit organization.  I think this is limited to a one time award of $2500. 

I like this list of cut off scores, because it shows each state for a couple of years.  I would not look at cut off scores from earlier than the class of 2017, because that would be based on scores from before the most current revision of the PSAT/SAT test.  https://www.compassprep.com/national-merit-semifinalist-cutoffs-class-of-2019-archived/

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1 hour ago, Lanny said:

 

I am not sure which deadline is on July 1st.  Was that the deadline for signing up for the PSAT/NMSQT that will be given during October 2019?

In any event, for your DS, I strongly suggest that you read the information on the CollegeBoard.org web site about who qualifies as Hispanic/Latino for the National Hispanic Scholarship program.

Also, I strongly suggest that when he "bubbles in" the answer sheet, that he indicates that he is Hispanic/Latino.

Also, he should have a special email address only for school related emails and put that on his Answer Sheet and indicate that he is interested in hearing from schools. With a good score, he will receive emails from a lot of schools.

Good luck to him!  I suspect his biomother will qualify him but am not positive about that so you need to investigate.

 

Deadline for the Hispanic background scholarship application.  

He’s at public school currently and signing up for and taking PSAT, ASVAB, etc seems to happen without my involvement. 

I’m not sure he would have qualified or that we could prove his bio-mother origins in any case.

Ds checks “other” or “none of your business” or similar depending on his mood afaik. He believes in rugged individualism.  

They took PSAT last year and I didn’t know in time to have him do the dedicated email .   Apparently there has indeed been email bombardment.  He may get a new email for other purposes. 

He also miss keyed a letter of his name so we get a lot of mail to him in a slightly off way.  I think possibly those lists are shared or sold because it seems to be morphing into yet more slight variations.  Like “dear ____” you have been chosen for the national honor society. Just send us you $100 and we will send you your plaque and opportunities package...   stuff like that ...

 

Anyway for OP or anyone just starting this process, a dedicated college related email is definitely a good idea! Possibly two.  One to catch all the mail and another for corresponding with places of actual interest.   I’d hate for key info to get lost in the flood of what are basically ads

 

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1 hour ago, Sebastian (a lady) said:

The PSAT is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship compeitition.  Students take the PSAT in October of junior year.  In fall of senior year, they are informed if they are semi-finalists, based on cut off scores that vary slightly from state to state (and also change slightly from year to year). 

Semi-finalists must submit an application package to be considered for finalist status.  It includes an essay, info on high school coursework, and an endorsement from the school (or designated person for homeschoolers).  Most semi-finalists do become finalists, unless they have poor grades or a non-recommendation.

Then there are three types of scholarships available:

Corporate scholarships provided by the employer of the student's parents or may be based on where the student lives or what their career intentions are. 

University based scholarships are grants provided by a college.  Often these require that the student list that school as their first choice college.  These scholarships range from a couple thousand dollars to full tuition with housing and a stipend. 

This gives a list of the 2019 corporate sponsors and university sponsors of scholarships.  https://www.nationalmerit.org/s/1758/images/gid2/editor_documents/merit_sponsor_leaflet.pdf?gid=2&pgid=61

A much smaller number of students might receive a scholarship direct from the National Merit organization.  I think this is limited to a one time award of $2500. 

I like this list of cut off scores, because it shows each state for a couple of years.  I would not look at cut off scores from earlier than the class of 2017, because that would be based on scores from before the most current revision of the PSAT/SAT test.  https://www.compassprep.com/national-merit-semifinalist-cutoffs-class-of-2019-archived/

 

According to the last link 
 
 
 
MAJOR CHANGE FOR FUTURE SEMIFINALISTS: The big news for juniors taking the PSAT in October 2018 is that they are the first class that will be able to use ACT scores as “confirming scores” in the Finalist round of the competition. This is a long overdue change, as many high-scoring ACT students have had to take the SAT for no reason other than National Merit’s rules. This
 

 re op from @BusyMom5

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12 hours ago, Pen said:

Deadline for the Hispanic background scholarship application.  

He’s at public school currently and signing up for and taking PSAT, ASVAB, etc seems to happen without my involvement. 

I’m not sure he would have qualified or that we could prove his bio-mother origins in any case.

<snip>

 

 

We are talking about two (2) totally different things! The National HispanicRecognition Program is not a Scholarship. It is an Honor.  The top 2.5% (?) of the Hispanic/Latino test takers (PSAT/NMSQT during October of their Junior year) receive the Honor. There is nothing to apply for in advance of taking the PSAT/NMSQT. The only thing he needs to do is to indicate that he is of Hispanic/Latino descent when he "bubbles in" his information on the Answer Sheet.   If he qualifies for the Honor, then they do require some documentation and confirmation as I recall. My DD qualified for the Honor. Some universities (I believe a few, not many) will provide a "Full Ride" Scholarship to National Hispanic Scholars. I think I had the name of the program incorrect in my previous post(s) in this thread and if so I apologize for that.  The CollegeBoard provides the information to Scholarships America (?) in Minnesota and they administer the program for the CollegeBoard. Here is a link for you to read: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10/scholarships-and-recognition/national-hispanic-recognition-program

 

 

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1 hour ago, Lanny said:

 

We are talking about two (2) totally different things! The National HispanicRecognition Program is not a Scholarship. It is an Honor.  The top 2.5% (?) of the Hispanic/Latino test takers (PSAT/NMSQT during October of their Junior year) receive the Honor. There is nothing to apply for in advance of taking the PSAT/NMSQT. The only thing he needs to do is to indicate that he is of Hispanic/Latino descent when he "bubbles in" his information on the Answer Sheet.   If he qualifies for the Honor, then they do require some documentation and confirmation as I recall. My DD qualified for the Honor. Some universities (I believe a few, not many) will provide a "Full Ride" Scholarship to National Hispanic Scholars. I think I had the name of the program incorrect in my previous post(s) in this thread and if so I apologize for that.  The CollegeBoard provides the information to Scholarships America (?) in Minnesota and they administer the program for the CollegeBoard. Here is a link for you to read: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/psat-nmsqt-psat-10/scholarships-and-recognition/national-hispanic-recognition-program

 

 

 

Thank you! And I see a phone number there.  I’ll call and ask them about the bio-parent aspect.  If it counts I’ll ask him to check Hispanic/Latino. 

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On 7/10/2019 at 12:56 PM, Pen said:

 

According to the last link 
 
 
 
MAJOR CHANGE FOR FUTURE SEMIFINALISTS: The big news for juniors taking the PSAT in October 2018 is that they are the first class that will be able to use ACT scores as “confirming scores” in the Finalist round of the competition. This is a long overdue change, as many high-scoring ACT students have had to take the SAT for no reason other than National Merit’s rules. This
 

 re op from @BusyMom5

Yes, this is a nice change, especially for students where ACT is the standard test.

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On 7/11/2019 at 9:29 AM, Pen said:

 

Thank you! And I see a phone number there.  I’ll call and ask them about the bio-parent aspect.  If it counts I’ll ask him to check Hispanic/Latino. 

 

You are welcome. I believe if he does well on the PSAT/NMSQT exam during October of the Junior year he will get a lot of emails. Most of them can and should be deleted. Some of them are Gold. Study all of them carefully, before deleting.

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