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PSAT in October

Common questions about the October PSAT test.

The PSAT is usually given in October for sophomores and juniors. While it is not necessary, students should take the opportunity to brush up on their PSAT/SAT skills before taking the test. Students may receive a National Merit Scholarship by scoring a high score on their PSAT. Each year some 55,000 high school students are honored in NMSC programs and more than 10,500 of the most outstanding participants receive scholarships worth a total of $50 million for college undergraduate study. Students can sign up at their individual high schools for the October PSAT.

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Danielle Bianchi Golod answers some of the most commonly asked questions about the PSAT test.

Many students take a PSAT test during October of their sophomore year.  Yet, some don’t start until their junior year.  Whenever you plan to take it, it’s nice to feel a little prepared for what to expect.  This year the PSAT’s will be offered on Wednesday, October 12th (at private high schools) and Saturday October 15th (at public high schools).  Below I’ve enumerated some tips for taking your junior year PSAT test:


This test is important because it’s good practice for the actual SAT and you could receive a National Merit Scholarship (scholarship given from the NMSC).


Your school should register you, but just in case, in September make sure you’re registered for the October PSAT.  You can prepare by using old PSAT or SAT exams.

(NMSQT = National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)

  1. You can get results which could tell you what you need to study for the SAT.
  2. You can then focus your preparation in those areas.
  3. You can see how your score relates to other students applying to college.
  4. You can familiarize yourself with standardized testing and with the kinds of questions you’ll see on the SAT.
  5. RESULTS from the PSAT will give you and your counselor a good idea of your strengths and weaknesses.  If you took your 10th grade PSAT, did you do better this time?  What do you need to work on before you take your first SAT?
  6. BOOKS for PREP?  What book should I use to study for the PSAT?  There are a few PSAT study guides out there, but the best way is to study old PSAT tests–especially the one offered by your school/what you get in the mail from the College Board.
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SAT & ACT – What to Bring to the Test

What exactly should you bring to the ACT or SAT on test day.

Test Day Essentials

Remember to bring the following with you on Saturday morning:

  1. Registration slip (print off of SAT/ACT website)
  2. Directions to test center
  3. Calculator (extra batteries if you think you’ll need them)
    1. Approved calculators:

i.      four-function calculator

ii.      scientific calculator

iii.      graphing calculator

  1. Stopwatch for your desk—digital with NO BEEPING—stopwatch is not mandatory, but useful instead of having to look up at the clock or rely on the proctor to tell you the time left.  My students have always told me they wished they had a stopwatch on test day.
  2. Two sharpened No. 2 pencils with erasers
  3. Student ID
  4. Food—something nutritious & easy to eat—a banana or energy bar is usually best
  5. Drink—water/Gatorade/flavored water
  6. Tissues
  7. Social security number (optional)
  8. Email address (optional)
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Episode 2 – ACT Test Strategies

In Episode 2, Danielle takes you through each of the 5 sections of the ACT and gives you some great tips and strategies you can use while preparing and on test day. Plus, she takes you through what you should consider bringing on test day.

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Episode 1 – What to Bring to the ACT Test on Test Day

Episode 1 – What to Bring to the ACT Test on Test Day

Probably the most asked question my students have is what to bring to the ACT test on the actual test day.  Here is a list of things that you should consider bringing to help you perform at your best when filling out that Scantron sheet.

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Help for the New UC Essay Personal Insight Questions

Danielle Bianchi Golod helps students answer the new UC application essay questions.

For many years, the University of California used the same 2 essay prompts for its admissions application.  However, this year it has mixed things up a bit with its 8 new “personal insight” essay questions.  Students applying to any school in the UC system are required to answer any four of these personal insight questions with no more than 350 words for each essay.  While the best practices for responding to the new application essay questions have not changed, students’ stress levels have.  Continue reading Help for the New UC Essay Personal Insight Questions

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More Than UC Personal Statement Prompt Examples

UC Essay Prompt Examples

UPDATE Oct. 2016: The UC essay questions have changed!

Please read this article for more information.

How to Respond to the UC Essay Prompts

Many students are quite interested in applying to one or many of the campuses within the University of California system (or the “UC system” for short).  That’s not too surprising as 6 of the 9 campuses (UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, & UC Irvine) are ranked in the top 40 of the US News & World Report’s “Best National Universities.”  The UC system has always had one main application that all the campuses share.  Incoming freshmen must respond to two essay prompts on the UC application in order to apply for undergraduate admission.  Each applicant must respond to both essay questions within a maximum of 1000 words total.  These words may be allocated as the student wishes as long as the shorter one is greater than 250 words. Continue reading More Than UC Personal Statement Prompt Examples

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Personal Statement and Application Essay Mistakes 2013

Application Essay Mistakes Thumbnail

I wanted to make a quick post detailing some common mistakes that my students are making this year in their personal statements and application essays for schools like the University of California (UC) and the University of Texas (UT).

Writing your essay about sports:

  • Many of you are still writing about sports…I urge you not to do this.
  • Your activity resume will show all the time you spend on sports and the sports essay is entirely overused.
  • Be careful writing about dance or cheerleading as well for the same reasons.

Continue reading Personal Statement and Application Essay Mistakes 2013

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What to Bring to the SAT / ACT on Test Day

Something many students fail to do is think about is what to bring with them on the day of the SAT or ACT test. They have done multiple practice tests for many months, but lose confidence and focus if they aren’t fully prepared on Saturday morning. This list will help make sure you are prepared on test day and not stressing because you forgot something like a calculator.

Test Day Checklist

Continue reading What to Bring to the SAT / ACT on Test Day