It’s that time of year again! Oh, who are we kidding? There is no “off” season for testing, anymore! Testing is year round! But, there is a special test date coming up that applies (mostly) to high school teachers…particularly 11th grade teachers. Yes, it’s that monster: the PSAT NMSQT! This year, the PSAT/NMSQT test will be administered on 2 days: October 15th (a Wednesday) and October 18th (a Saturday).
Why is the PSAT/NMSQT a big deal? Well, this test not only prepares students for what the SAT test (the most widely used college entrance exam in the country) will be like, but also qualifies them to be designated National Merit Semi-Finalists or Finalists. This designation alone could lead to them receiving a ‘free ride’ to the school of their choice. For instance, in my home state of Florida, National Merit Finalists receive free tuition, room, board and books to any of the 12 state universities here in FL, and that is on top of any other scholarships the University or local community might award the student. So, needless to say, the PSAT can be a very helpful test in many ways for college bound students! Many states pay for all their Juniors to take the test (if that student is enrolled in a public high school), but some (like FL) even pay for 10th graders (FL might even pay for 9th graders, I don’t remember) to take the test as well. While there are no high stakes scholarships riding on the outcome for 9th/10th graders, the practice is invaluable. Plus, some districts use those scores for progress monitoring and teacher evaluations. So it’s in everybody’s best interest for all students to do well on the test.
If you are doing any PSAT prep with your students, I wanted to let you know of an important resource in my TeachersPayTeachers store. A huge component of the PSAT is vocabulary. Test-prep courses have entire study guides devoted to vocabulary acquisition. (These are, indeed, helpful. Side note: I memorized hundreds of words/definitions for my GRE and it made a huge difference!) But simply memorizing lists of words can be daunting. Instead, over time, I have realized that what is most helpful in vocabulary acquisition is an understanding and knowledge of word parts. It’s the same school of thought that the Spelling Bee kids have. If you know the root/prefix/suffix of a word and its language of origin, you can get pretty darn close to spelling it right even if you’ve never heard the whole word before. That’s the same for PSAT vocabulary. If you teach students how to analyze words for their word parts, they can get pretty darn close to the meaning even if they’ve never seen the whole word before. Therefore, I have created a resource of 100 commonly used words on the PSAT to help students strengthen their understanding of prefixes, suffixes and roots. Students define the word, identify and define the prefix (if it exists), the root, and the suffix (if it exists). They also give 3 other words that use the same root. This improves their working vocabulary and gives them a better shot at PSAT success! And it’s cheap! It’s $0.50! So worth it…you could use it as homework, bell work, or even a sub plan. Head on over and check it out!
As a sister-tool to my PSAT prep, I have developed another product that has worked incredibly well in my classroom to help prepare students for these multiple choice tests. The test preparation in this product is much of the same information covered in prep classes that cost hundreds of dollars. This product features 12 mini-posters with testing strategies and information of how to teach these strategies to your students. This resource also features a study guide for students to help them study and prepare for any type of test or exam. Currently, this product is designed for no-penalty guessing standardized tests (like the ACT), but I am working on updating it to have a special section for guessing-penalty tests like the PSAT/NMSQT and SAT (although both are changing their policies, it hasn’t happened yet). If you buy the current version, you will receive the updated version for free once it’s done.
Test-taking is a skill, and students need to be taught that skill and encouraged/allowed to practice that skill. Help your students help themselves by taking them through this test prep!