PSAT Prep?

PSAT Prep? 

This is the time of year that parents come back from vacation to the reality of standardized tests.  Many have just received their child’s PSAT scores.  Here’s one Rockhurst parent’s email to us: “My son, a junior, just got his PSAT scores and is pretty heartbroken about his 210.  Great score, but most likely a point or two below what the cut-off will be.”  I know, it takes some explanation.

Wait a minute, the SAT isn’t a test of how smart you are?

Yes and no. As heartbreaking as this may be for those who did well on their entrance exams years ago, and carved out a life of success for themselves based on these scores, these exams have nothing to do with academics.  It doesn’t even have anything to do with test taking.  It has everything to do with understanding how this particular test is constructed and attacking it accordingly.

Sure, there are plenty of “A” students who do well on this test, but there are also plenty of “A” students who test fine in school who don’t do so well on this test.  What does this mean?  Well, either it means that they’ve fooled teachers and parents for years, and are really not intelligent, or that this test is not about intelligence.  All the SAT (or the ACT) provides is another method colleges can use to eliminate candidates in an ever-competitive pool of high school students.

When do I get started?

The PSAT, which is 2 hours, 45 minutes in length, is offered nationally every year in October. However, for juniors who take the PSAT/NMSQT in October of their junior year, high scores are the basis for National Merit Recognition and subsequent scholarships.

Each section is scored on a scale of 160–760, making a “perfect” score 1520. There are also test scores, cross-test scores, and subscores. There are 2 sections: Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing.

The 3 big scores you should look at:

  • Total Score
  • Evidence-Based Reading & Writing Score
  • Math Score

The PSAT is scored on the same rubric, but a slightly different scale, as the real SAT. While the SAT is scored in a range of 400–1600, the PSAT is scored in a range of 320–1520. However, the PSAT is not an entirely accurate predictor of SAT performance. The conventional wisdom is simply to “add a zero” to the 2 digit PSAT scores, but while this helps give a general idea of scores, it is far from accurate for two reasons:  1) The PSAT is shorter than the real exam, has easier questions than the real SAT, and brings none of the real life actual pressures that that test brings, 2) The scores are set as curved against every single other Junior in the country taking the test that day, making an enormous curve that never occurs on any one of the individual 7 SAT national dates.  This explains how a student can miss one question on a PSAT and lose as much as 5 points – the curve is very steep.

While being a National Merit Scholar brings some cachet to any college application, it also (more importantly) brings cash – be it as far away as USC (a half-tuition scholarship for any Finalist who designates USC as their first choice school) or as close as KU ($10,000/year for the same conditions).

Will prepping for the PSAT help?  If you are a serious contender for a top-tier school, yes.  The reason is that the test is not the only determinant of Semi-Finalist or Finalist status.  If the grades and resume aren’t there, your time is better spent improving the resume you do have and doing well in the classes you are taking.

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ACT National Test Dates '21-'22

ACT Releases National Test Dates for 2021-2022

If you’re thinking about taking the ACT this fall or really planning ahead and looking at next spring, preparing for the test just got easier for you. just released their National Test Dates for the rest of 2021 and onto 2022. Keep in mind, students will have a registration deadline and photo upload deadline for each test date.

One thing to think about when looking at each ACT test date is your schedule. Is the test date you’ve chosen cohesive with your classes, homework load, extra-curricular activities, job, sports schedule, etc.? If it’s going to be a big struggle to fit in the ACT this semester, then take a look at another date and see if you are able to lighten your load before then.

Below, we’ve put together a chart for students to easily reference the dates and start preparing for their chosen ACT date.

ACT National Test Dates '21-'22

Get Smarter Prep is always available to help students prepare for the ACT, whether that means taking our ACT Prep Course, Semi-Private Tutoring or one-on-one Private Tutoring. If you have no clue as to what you would actually score on a real ACT, we offer Free Practice Tests every Saturday morning. You can sign up for a Practice Test Here. 

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Celebrates 15 Years

Get Smarter Prep Celebrates 15 Years

Get Smarter Prep Celebrates 15 Years

Our 15th anniversary officially kicked off in March, and after all these years of helping students get the score they need for the school they want, things are only looking brighter at Get Smarter Prep. As we celebrate this milestone, we have sincere appreciation and profound thanks to everyone that made it possible.

First and foremost, we would like to thank our students, who we succeed with together; we’re also grateful to all of the parents, who support their students in helping them achieve their goals; and finally, we thank each of our tutors, who are the most dedicated and knowledgeable test prep instructors in the industry and who make Get Smarter Prep what it is today, and who continually put our students and their goals first.

“We are very fortunate to work with local students and their families to help navigate the college prep process over the past 15 years.  Seeing students succeed with their ACT/SAT goals or helping students along their path to college and beyond is what we are here for. It’s been incredibly rewarding helping students unlock a piece of the college preparation process alongside of them and for those students to discover, perhaps, a path that could never even been an option now presented to them!” stated Caleb Pierce, President of Get Smarter Prep.

Our goal moving forward is to remain focused on our students and their success, no matter if that is a 12-point ACT increase, 1-point increase, or helping students navigate the college prep process to be accepted into the college of their dreams. It’s been an incredible 15 years of tutoring students from all around the Kansas City metro and we look forward to offering more options for students than ever before.

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2020 Blog

Closing the Chapter on 2020

As we near the end of 2020 (finally), I’ve been thinking back on what this year has taught me. If not taught me, then reinforced what I already knew, but needed to work on. I’m sure this list will look different for everyone, but if I had to guess, there may be a few items on my list that you would find on yours as well. 2020 was a year of many hardships for the entire world, but I am grateful to look back and reflect on things that mean more to me now than 12 months ago.

  1. Be more patient.
  2. Learn something new.
  3. Revise. Plan. Revise. Plan. Revise.
  4. Be more respectful of others.
  5. Listen.
  6. Educate Yourself.
  7. Find joy in the smallest of things.
  8. It’s okay to take a minute for yourself.
  9. Keep working hard…it will pay off.
  10. Take time away from the news and social media every now and then.


What’s your top ten? Does your list look different? Challenge yourself to look back at this year and write down what you’ve learned so you can use what you’ve been taught to move forward. We are excited and hopeful for 2021. We hope you are too! If you’re thinking about taking an ACT in 2021, reach out to us and let us know how we can help you prepare.

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