PSAT and the National Merit Scholarship

Every October, approximately 3.5 million high schoolers take the PSAT/NMSQT, but a significantly smaller percentage of the population understands exactly why! Amy and Mike invited test prep professional and author Brian Stewart to explain both the PSAT and the National Merit Scholarship.

What are five things you will learn in this episode?

  1. What is the PSAT and why should a student take it?
  2. What is the National Merit Scholarship?
  3. How does the Selection Index differ from a PSAT or SAT score?
  4. Do colleges care about National Merit Scholarship recognition?
  5. How much scholarship is at stake through the PSAT?


At the end of his first year teaching Social Studies at Dublin Jerome High School, company founder Brian Stewart thought it would make sense to do some part-time tutoring work over the summer. After all, he had done quite well on standardized tests when he was in high school and really enjoyed coming up with creative ways to explain challenging concepts to students. Other companies charged a fortune and didn’t seem to have a high-quality product.

As Brian worked with more students, word spread about the quality of his tutoring services. He started to offer ACT and SAT test prep group classes, and worked with students from all over Central Ohio. In 2011, Brian left his day job to run BWS Education Consulting full time with his wife Caitlin. Applying the expertise from her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, Caitlin has ensured that our teaching materials and methods make high-quality test preparation accessible to students of all backgrounds and ability levels.

In 2012, Barron’s Educational Series contacted Brian about submitting samples of his writing as they conducted a national search for their next ACT book author. Brian was chosen to write Barron’s ACT, and has gone on to write several ACT, SAT, and PSAT books with Barron’s Educational Series. His books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide.

In 2014, BWS Education expanded to have associate tutors who teach not only the ACT and SAT, but tutor students in math, science, and writing. Brian and Caitlin personally interview and train every tutor on our staff to ensure they are the best in the business. BWS is a team of committed educators who relentlessly look for the best way to deliver educational enrichment to our clients, whether it’s test prep, academic help, or college admission counseling.

Find Brian at


Brian’s PSAT Book: Barron’s PSAT/NMSQT 1520
Why take the PSAT?
PSAT and Scholarships


Tests and the Rest is THE college admissions industry podcast. Explore all of our episodes on the show page.

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