Skip to main content

The PSAT is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship. Unfortunately, National Merit is only awarded to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. That’s why taking the PSAT as an international student may not seem obvious. After all, why does the PSAT matter if you aren’t going to get National Merit?

Even if you are not a U.S. citizen, it turns out that it might still be a good idea to take the PSAT. Here’s why:

1. Get courted by universities

When you take the PSAT as an international student, you can opt-in to the Student Search Service. This is a free program that lets you look up colleges and scholarship opportunities.

It also gives certain colleges and scholarships information about you. That means that you can expect to be courted by universities. As a non-U.S. citizen, this can be a great way to learn about schools in the United States. If you’re on the fence about attending college in the U.S. or another country, this can help you to learn more about options in the U.S. and make an informed decision.

2. Discover your weaknesses

Taking the PSAT is a great way to predict how you will do on the SAT — and start paying more attention to those areas where you are weak.

“PSAT scores can give students a good indication of how they might score on the SAT if they were to take the test with no additional practice or preparation.”
— Dan Edmonds, Forbes Magazine

You normally take the PSAT as a sophomore or a junior in high school. That means that you will have one or two years after taking it before you need to take the real SAT and apply to colleges. If you find that there is a section where you score particularly poorly, you will have plenty of time to search out tutoring. In fact, you will even have time to take additional high school courses to help increase your score.

3. Decrease test anxiety

High school exams do not have the same format or rules as standardized tests. If you wait until you are a senior to start taking college entrance exams, you might experience test anxiety — especially if you are not acustomed to taking timed tests or tests in English.

The key to mastering standardized tests — whether it is the SAT, the ACT or the TOEFL — lies at least partly in your ability to conquer any anxiety. Take the PSAT your junior year or earlier. That way, you can start to get used to U.S. standardized test formats. Ultimately, this will improve your chances of performing your best on the exams that really matter.

Maija Wallace is a freelance writer for college admissions blogs. Her website is located at

Other Related Articles: 

  • About The PSAT & Why You Should Take It
    Find out about the difference between PSAT & ISAT, PSAT test format, and 3 main reasons to take the PSAT, written by Prep Zone Academy’s senior trainer.

Free College Consultation

To register for a consultation session, provide us with your details below and we will get in touch to schedule a suitable time slot. For any additional inquiries, contact our hotline at +65 6812 9999


By submitting this form, I agree to Prep Zone Academy’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Prep Zone Academy

Author Prep Zone Academy

More posts by Prep Zone Academy