The approach of the PSAT each October triggers all kinds of questions. Students and parents both wonder how the PSAT is different from the SAT, what the PSAT has to do with National Merit Scholarships, or even whether the PSAT is worth taking or skipping entirely. However, people rarely think about where to take the PSAT.
Test takers may strategize where and when to sit for the SAT or ACT, but the PSAT rarely requires such considerations. By default, almost all students take their PSATs at their high schools on whichever of three available October dates the school chooses. Since high schools actively manage the PSAT registration process–again, a departure from SAT and ACT protocol–students don’t need to worry about the where or when of testing.
However, the default PSAT option doesn’t work for every student. Some have sports obligations that take precedence on the appointed date, while others have to manage personal or religious considerations. Homeschooled students don’t even have a high school to arrange testing for them! Fortunately, alternate arrangements can be made, given enough notice and cooperation.
The College Board hides the process for finding a PSAT location on the Home-Schooled Students page for PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10. The simple steps, however, apply to any student needing a new place to sit for the test:
1. Use the School Search tool to find a local school that’s giving the PSAT on a day you can take it.
2. Contact the counseling office at that school as far in advance as possible. College Board recommends four months before the test, but even a month in advance may work.
You may have to set up a College Board account and include your actual school if accommodations are involved, but even those steps are relatively simple. Committing to take the PSAT at your school on the default date may not require much work at all, but scheduling to take the test elsewhere is fairly easy as well, at least if you don’t wait until the last minute!