Use the PSAT as the springboard for the college conversation

How important are the PSAT’s?  What are the implications?  Should my child study?  If you have contemplated these questions, here’s the long story short.

The short answer is that the test is being offered in many schools next week and is not something to stress about. It should be viewed as one tool of many to begin the college conversation.  The exam has many scholarship implications and would open conversations with schools depending on performance.  The most important aspect, though, is that it will introduce your child to the structure of the SAT, as well as the types of questions to expect on both the SAT and ACT (except that only the ACT has the science portion). 

I would suggest that when talking about the exam, start asking if your child has a dream school and if they do why that school.  Have them be conscious of their grades this year and discuss the impact of GPA (try not to have unrealistic expectations or goals) .  Start your child in taking ownership for their performance, and struggles if any- allow them to ask for help. If you see a need, try to be attentive to it. 

Think about if you will need to help your child prepare for the SAT/ACT, and if so, how.  Have them be able to assess their own strengths and weaknesses. Help them learn test taking tips and strategies.

My largest piece of advice is to have these conversations earlier than later in the high school years.  By doing that the conversations can be laid back and adjusted as time goes on, removing any unnecessary stress.