How to Register for the PSAT: 3 Simple Steps



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Every autumn, sophomores and juniors have the opportunity to take the PSAT.

But how exactly does the PSAT registration process work?

Does everyone have the same PSAT sign up date? What does it cost to take the PSAT?

Here,

we’ll teach you everything you need to know about PSAT registration.

We’ll start with a brief overview of how registration works and then go over the three key steps you need to take in order to register for the PSAT. We’ll also touch on how to register if you’re homeschooled or living outside the US before finishing with our top tips for ensuring a smooth PSAT registration process.

PSAT Registration: Overview


Unlike the SAT, for which you

register online

through the College Board,

you will register for the PSAT through your own high school.

Exactly how the PSAT sign up process works will depend on your school. Basically, though, here’s how it works: schools inform their students when the PSAT registration deadline is, and then give instructions on how to register and pay for the test.


The PSAT is offered three times a year in the autumn on a primary date, Saturday date, and alternate date.

Your school will select the date on which it will administer the PSAT. Most schools choose the primary date, but some might instead administer the PSAT on one of the two alternate dates should the primary date not work well with the school’s schedule.

Here is the 2021 PSAT testing schedule, according to the

College Board

. For information on future PSAT test dates, refer to

our guide

.


Primary Date


Saturday Date


Alternate Date

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Many schools will require you to

register for the PSAT around September.


Unfortunately, not all schools administer the PSAT.

If your high school isn’t going to offer the PSAT, you may take the test at another nearby school that

is

offering it.

Next, we’ll walk through the PSAT registration process and look at how to search for high schools offering the PSAT in case your school doesn’t plan to administer it.

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How to Register for the PSAT: 3-Step Guide


Here, we go over the three steps required to register for the PSAT at your (or a nearby) school.

Step 1: Determine Whether Your School Will Offer the PSAT

First, you must determine whether your high school will actually administer the PSAT. The easiest way to check this is to

use the College Board’s

school search tool,


which looks like this:

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With this tool, all you have to do is type in the name of your school and its city, state (if applicable), zip code, and country.

Once you click “Search,” you’ll get

an entry with the name and address of your school as well as its assessment and test date.

On the drop-down menu, click “PSAT/NMSQT Fall 2021.” (If fall 2021 dates aren’t available yet, click “Fall 2020” to see whether your school offered the PSAT last year.)

Here’s an example of a school in Houston that offered the 2016 PSAT on that year’s primary date:

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If you know for sure your school will

not

be offering the PSAT or if you’re a homeschooled student, you can instead

search for your city, state, and zip code to see which schools around you will be offering the PSAT.

This type of search can help narrow down your options, ultimately allowing you to select the school that’s most convenient for you.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to use this search tool, you can

ask your counselor whether your school will be offering the PSAT

or whether they know of any nearby schools that plan to offer it.

Step 2: Find Out Your PSAT Registration Deadline and Test Date


Most high schools opt for the primary test date, which is always a weekday in early or mid-October.

However, some schools might choose the Saturday PSAT date or the alternate test date instead to accommodate special schedules or religious observances.

To find out when your school will be administering the PSAT, consult your counselor or look at the 2021 PSAT administration date for your school using the school search tool.

Here’s an example of two schools in the same city with different administration dates. One school administered the 2016 PSAT on the primary test date, whereas the other administered the test on the Saturday date:

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Your school should inform you prior to the PSAT test dates when the exam will take place.

If you haven’t heard anything by early or mid-September, talk to your counselor.

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Step 3: Sign Up and Pay for the PSAT

Your next step is to register for the PSAT. Simple, right?

Here’s the kicker, though:

PSAT sign-up methods vary by school.

So while some schools might require you to register and pay for the test in person, others might require you to go online and register through a website. (You’ll

never

register for the PSAT through the College Board.)

For example, in 2016,

this high school

required students to register for the PSAT online and pay for it later in person, while

this school

requires students to register

and

pay for the PSAT all in person.

Whatever the case,

your school should offer clear instructions on how to complete your PSAT sign up.

Schools typically hand out or email PSAT registration information to students in the early fall.

If you’re planning to take the PSAT at a different school, you’ll need to

call that school or contact one of its counselors

to inquire about the PSAT registration process and see whether the process differs for students who do not attend that school.

When registering for the PSAT, you’ll typically provide basic identifying information, including your full name, home address, phone number, email address, grade level, and student ID number (if applicable).


The PSAT costs

$17 per student

, but some schools might cover all or part of this fee.

Likewise, some schools might charge more than $17 in order to compensate for the use of proctors and test administrators.

Either way,

your school should tell you how much you’ll need to pay for the PSAT and how to submit your payment.

Most schools accept cash or checks, but what is considered an acceptable form of payment will vary depending on the school. Checks will most likely be addressed to your school (

never

to the College Board).

Finally,

if you’re a low-income junior, you might qualify for a

PSAT fee waiver


. To confirm your eligibility, talk with your counselor. Only schools—not students!—may contact the College Board to request fee waivers. If you have any questions or concerns about PSAT registration or paying for the PSAT, it’s best to consult your counselor directly.

And there you have it: everything you need to know and do in order to register for the PSAT!


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How to Register for the PSAT If You’re Homeschooled


If you’re

homeschooled

, you can still register for the PSAT—you just need to find a school that administers it. Here are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Get in Touch With a Local High School

Use the College Board’s

high school search tool

to look for schools offering the PSAT or to confirm that the high school you want to test at will be administering the PSAT.

The College Board recommends reaching out to schools

four months


before the test

to ensure you’ll have ample time to work out registration logistics and solidify your test-taking plans.

Step 2: Request a Copy of the

Official Student Guide

From the School

This free guide will tell you everything you need to know about the PSAT and even comes with a full-length practice test. You can also

download the PSAT guide

from the College Board website.

Step 3: Determine Whether You Qualify for a Fee Waiver

Generally, those who qualify for PSAT fee waivers are

low-income 11th graders.

I suggest reviewing the

eligibility requirements

and then consulting a counselor at your selected school to determine whether you’re eligible. Note that homeschooled students may

not

request fee waivers directly from the College Board.

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How to Register for the PSAT If You’re Living Outside the US


You don’t need to be

a current resident of the US or even a US citizen

to take the PSAT.

Unfortunately,

non-US citizens and non-permanent residents are not eligible for

National Merit scholarships

,

so there’s not much incentive for international students to take the exam outside the US.

On the other hand, if you’re a US citizen (in the 11th grade or equivalent) who is currently living abroad, you

are

eligible for National Merit consideration.

Here’s how you can register for the PSAT abroad:

Step 1: Contact a Local School That Offers the PSAT

If you’re not sure which schools are offering the PSAT, use the College Board’s

school search tool

to look for schools. Make sure you start this process early—you should ideally reach out to schools in your area

at least four months before the primary PSAT test date.

Step 2: Contact an English-Speaking Educator

This educator should guide you through the PSAT registration process and help you pay for the exam at your selected school.

Step 3: Request a Copy of the

Official Student Guide

From the School

Your school should give you a copy of this guide once you’ve registered for the PSAT. This free test guide contains

a full-length practice PSAT

in addition to tons of information on what the PSAT is and what kinds of skills it tests. Alternatively, you can

download it from the College Board website

.

How to Request PSAT Accommodations for a Disability

Students who have

documented disabilities

may request

special accommodations for the PSAT

. Examples of accommodations include braille booklets, large-type test booklets, additional time, and extended breaks.

To request an accommodation, ask your school counselor to submit an official request to the College Board

Services for Students with Disabilities

on your behalf. The process usually

takes about seven weeks,

so be sure to start early.

If you’re given any accommodations for your disability

without

having received prior approval from the College Board,

your PSAT scores will be canceled.

So don’t dawdle—talk to your counselor as early as possible to secure the accommodations you need for test day!

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5 Tips for Ensuring a Smooth PSAT Registration Process

Before you register for the PSAT, follow our five tips below to ensure a smooth and error-free registration process.

#1: Start the Process Early

Unless your counselor has confirmed your school’s PSAT intentions,

you can’t just assume your school will be offering the PSAT.

This is why I suggest starting the PSAT process early, ideally at the end of your sophomore year.

During this time, ask your counselor whether your school will be administering the PSAT and when. If you know that your school won’t be offering the PSAT (or if you are homeschooled), start looking for schools in your area that

will

be offering it, and get in touch with them as soon as possible.

Remember, it’s necessary to

give yourself plenty of time to contact schools,

especially if you’ll be asking about fee waivers or requesting special accommodations for a disability.

#2: Keep Your October Schedule Open

Usually,

all PSAT dates are scheduled for October,

so you’ll want to keep your October schedule fairly empty in order to accommodate the PSAT—particularly if your school hasn’t yet announced the exact date on which it will administer the test.

To avoid conflict, don’t schedule dentist or orthodontist appointments on Wednesday mornings, and don’t plan any weekend getaways in case your school chooses the Saturday test date.

#3: Ask About Fee Waivers

Many students fail to realize they qualify for a PSAT fee waiver, which is why we suggest talking to your counselor early in the PSAT registration process about discounts for low-income 11th graders.

Note that

PSAT fee waivers apply to all sorts of students,

including homeschooled students, US citizens testing outside the US, and non-US citizens testing in the US.

There is a caveat, though:

fee waivers only cover the actual cost of the exam ($17)

and not any additional fees that might be required by the school. So even with a fee waiver, you might still have to pay a nominal fee in order to take the PSAT. As always, check with your school for details.

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#4: Decide Whether You’ll Take the PSAT as a Sophomore

Most students take the PSAT as juniors, but some choose to

take the PSAT as sophomores

to get a feel for the format of the test and what you’ll be expected to know. The downside?

Sophomores are not eligible for National Merit scholarships,

which target high-scoring juniors only, so there is no monetary benefit to taking the PSAT as a sophomore.

Despite this con, taking the PSAT early can help familiarize you with ;the structure and content of the exam, ultimately

increasing your chance of

qualifying for National Merit as a junior

.

So if you truly want to give yourself your best shot at qualifying for National Merit in the future, go ahead and register for the PSAT as a sophomore!

#5: Consult Your Counselor for Questions

Last but not least,

always consult your school counselor if you have any questions about the PSAT,

such as when the test is, how to submit your payment, and how to request fee waivers and special accommodations. Ultimately, when it comes to

your

school, your counselor will be the most reliable PSAT resource available!

Recap: How PSAT Registration Works


All students register for the PSAT through their high schools

or through a local school should their own school not administer the exam.

Each school conducts its own PSAT registration process and will explain to students when the test is and how students can sign up and pay for it.

Fee waivers

are usually available to low-income 11th graders.


If you are homeschooled or do not currently reside in the US, you can still take the PSAT.

To register, contact a local high school that’s administering the PSAT and ask whether you can take it there. If you need special accommodations for a disability, you can request these ahead of time through your counselor.

Finally, don’t forget these

five essential tips

guaranteed to help your PSAT registration proceed as smoothly as possible:

  • Start early and confirm that your school actually offers the PSAT
  • Keep your fall schedule, especially October, relatively empty to account for all PSAT test dates
  • Ask your counselor about fee waivers and see whether you’re eligible for one
  • Decide whether you’d be interested in taking the PSAT as a sophomore
  • Direct any PSAT-related questions to your counselor

What’s Next?


Need a rundown of the PSAT before you register for it?

Check out

our in-depth PSAT guide

to learn what the test is, how it’s scored, and what kinds of skills you’ll need to master to achieve

a great PSAT score

on test day.


Want to learn about

PSAT scoring

?

Our complete guide explains everything you need to know about PSAT score distribution, percentiles, and

cutoff scores

for National Merit consideration.


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