Should You Prepare for the PSAT?

The PSAT high schoolers take in October of 11th grade has no bearing on college admissions, but that doesn’t mean the test isn’t worth taking or prepping for. Amy and Mike invited educator Brian Stewart to clarify if and when you should prepare for the PSAT.

What are five things you will learn in this episode?

  1. Should students take the PSAT?
  2. Do you have to take the PSAT before you can take an SAT?
  3. How do you know if you have a good chance at National Merit recognition?
  4. What can students do to prepare for the PSAT?
  5. Can students qualify for the National Merit Scholarship without taking the PSAT?


At the end of his first year teaching Social Studies at Dublin Jerome High School, 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.

Brian previously appeared on this podcast in episode 33 to discuss the PSAT AND THE NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP PROCESS.

Brian can be reached at


PSAT/NMSQT Study Guide, 2023: 4 Practice Tests + Comprehensive Review + Online Practice (Barron’s Test Prep)
Colleges that offer Full-Rides for National Merit
Sample Alternate Entry Form for National Merit
Information on the New Digital PSAT
Why Take the PSAT?




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


Mike Bergin is the president of Chariot Learning and founder of TestBright. Amy Seeley is the president of Seeley Test Pros. If you’re interested in working with Mike and/or Amy for test preparation, training, or consulting, feel free to get in touch through our contact page. We’d love to hear from you!

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