The PSAT for the Class of 2022

Last Updated on September 9, 2020 by Leigh Moore

But what about the PSAT?

Amidst all the frenzied debate and moving parts surrounding standardized testing, I had not seen anyone take a serious stab at what might become of the PSAT for the Class of 2022.

The PSAT isn’t a big deal for everyone and won’t make or break admission for anyone, but if a student 1) wants or needs a generous scholarship and 2) will consider attending a college outside the most selective tier–then, yeah, the PSAT is important. It’s really important. More accurately, doing well enough on the PSAT to earn recognition as a National Merit Semifinalist is a golden ticket of sorts.

National Merit Scholarships

The chart below demonstrates the distribution of such scholarships across US colleges. Not all scholarships are full ride or full tuition awards, but a lot of them are.

(Blog continues below)

For over a month, I fought the impulse to contact Art Sawyer at Compass Prep. Art is a founder of Compass and is a real student of the standardized testing world as we see it today. He’s a busy guy, I’m sure, and I didn’t wan to impose on his time. Now that we’re getting within shooting distance of the usual test dates in mid-October, though, I no longer felt like I could responsibly advise rising juniors until equipped with some insights.

On Friday afternoon, I sent Compass a request for any information they might have about the PSAT, and even though Art doesn’t know what’s going to happen, I thought his input was interesting and valuable. He’s given me permission to quote him.

NMSC possible response

“I have yet to hear a word from NMSC. They must be scrambling right now. A month or two ago, it might have been reasonable to hope that most PSATs would be held. That no longer seems like a reasonable position. It is unlikely that College Board will cancel the PSATs globally, and NMSC has no power to do so.

What NMSC will have to decide is how degraded this year’s PSAT can be before going to a Plan B. For now, I can only speculate on what that plan might be. Allowing the use of ACT/SAT scores — a sort of mass “alternate entry” — would be one option. A test optional approach seems highly unlikely. Class rank as an initial screen? GPA? School nominations? Given the financial condition of its sponsoring colleges and corporations, a 1-year pause is not an impossibility. In the old, old days, the NMSQT was a separate exam from the PSAT. Could it pull off an online exam? Or might NMSC just accept the skewed results and stick with Plan A? 

Please don’t frame Art’s thoughts as predictions. They are not. Instead, I think they serve as interesting food for thought as summer turns into fall and the class of 2022 begins to absorb their own unique set of challenges wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out our integrative college advising services and let us know how we can meet your needs.