Kaplan Test Prep Survey: High School Students Reveal Their Top Reasons for Preparing for the PSAT/NMSQTⓇ

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Press contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KaplanSATACT, @KapTestNews

New York, NY (December 13, 2016) –  A new Kaplan survey of nearly 1,000 PSAT students reveals why so many aspiring college students put so much effort into doing well on the exam: to get better prepared for the SAT® and to earn money for college*. The findings come as 3.8 million test takers across the country who took the PSAT in October begin receiving their scores this month. A deeper dive into students’ motivations are as follows:

    • The SAT: A plurality (34%) say the main reason for why they prepared for the PSAT was to get ready for the SAT, one of two admissions exams used by the the vast majority of college and universities (including almost all the most competitive ones).  With highly parallel content, the PSAT  has traditionally functioned as a practice test for the SAT, but in recent years also for the ACT®, as the recent changes to the SAT made it more similar to the ACT.
    • Scholarships: Earning scholarship money for college was the second most cited reason for prepping for the PSAT, given by 28% of students. $180 million in National Merit scholarships are awarded to top-scoring PSAT takers and doing well on the exam can go a long way in making sure affordability is less of an issue when deciding where to enroll.
    • Required: Some high schools across the country require that their sophomores take the PSAT as a way to make them more open to the idea of applying to college.  Usually, these high schools even cover the costs. Of the students surveyed, 19% said the main reason they took it was because it was required by their high school.
    • Recruitment: PSAT scores are one of the first pieces of information that colleges see about prospective students. Having this information, which is automatically sent to admissions officers, allows colleges to recruit high performing students early and gives students the benefit of knowing which schools think they “have what it takes.” This was the reason why 17% of students decided to prepare for the PSAT.
    • AP® Classes: Just two percent said the main reason they prepared for the PSAT was to qualify for Advanced Placement courses. Some high schools, as part of the process for qualifying to take AP courses, require students to do well on the PSAT.  Doing well in AP courses and performing well on AP exams can go a long way in improving your GPA and earning credit for college, respectively.

“The PSAT is an important first step on the path to success in the college admissions process, so it’s important to prepare accordingly,” said Lee Weiss, vice president of college admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “Aspiring college students should think about taking the PSAT before taking the SAT or ACT.”

PSAT preppers are among the record number of pre-college students turning to Kaplan, with the test prep industry leader reporting that more students have used Kaplan products and programs for the PSAT, SAT and ACT this year than in any prior year in its 78-year history.  Uncertainty around the redesigned SAT has fueled a more than 54% growth in Kaplan’s SAT publishing offerings, 43% growth in Kaplan’s ACT publishing offerings, and 41% growth in Kaplan’s SAT Live Online offerings.

In 2016, Kaplan introduced several groundbreaking free, interactive livestreaming teaching events for the PSAT, SAT and ACT, which  prepared hundreds of thousands of students for these high-stakes tests.  PSAT Prep Live, the most recent of these events, taught by master Kaplan teachers, garnered enthusiastic responses from the tens of thousands of students who participated and were part of the dynamic live-chat discussion.

The PSAT/NMSQT® is a registered trademark of the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which were not involved in the production of, and do not endorse this product.  The SAT® and AP® are trademarks registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this product. The ACT® is a registered trademark of ACT, Inc, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this product.

*For the survey, 981 students who took a Kaplan PSAT course were polled online in October  2016.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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