Duke TIP

PSAT™ 8/9 Above-Level Testing FAQs

Who is invited to participate in above-level testing?

All students currently enrolled in the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search are invited to register for the optional PSAT 8/9 testing when registration begins. Test registration may be completed online or by paper registration form. Beginning October 1, new talent search enrollees are invited to register for the optional PSAT 8/9 at the time of enrollment. Note: Testing does require an additional fee.

Is the Talent Search version of the PSAT 8/9 easier because it is offered to 4th-6th graders?

No. The PSAT 8/9 assessment was developed for eighth and ninth grade students. All questions are appropriate to eighth and ninth grade cognitive and academic development.  Students should expect this test to be challenging. Parents should view it primarily as a diagnostic tool.

How do I determine if my child is ready for above-level testing?

Parents have unique and important insights concerning their children and are in the best position to make this decision. Academic and emotional readiness should be considered prior to test registration. When approached thoughtfully, above-level testing may be academically appropriate when a student:

  • scores at the top of the range on grade-level assessments;
  • consistently makes excellent grades without noticeable study or apparent effort;
  • demonstrates high ability in regular testing, but does not receive high grades in the classroom;
  • is interested in learning more about the nature of his or her academic strengths.

Please consider your child’s testing readiness and gain their cooperation prior to test registration as refunds will not be made after the application is transmitted to College Board PSAT 8/9.

Are waivers available to cover the cost of the test?

Fee waiver funds for testing are limited and requests for aid always exceed available resources, so be sure to register early. Students requesting a waiver must register with a paper registration form and provide documentation of free or reduced school lunch qualification.

Why should I select more than one test site choice?

Above-level testing applications are not processed in real time but are transmitted weekly to College Board for processing. If your first choice of testing site has reached capacity by the time your application is processed, College Board will make every effort to assign you to your second site choice.

Is the PSAT 8/9 offered as an online test?

No, the PSAT 8/9 currently offered to talent search programs as an above-level test is a pencil and paper, proctored exam and must be taken at a site specifically designed for young talent search participants.

If I do not live in the Duke TIP region, will my child have the opportunity to take the PSAT 8/9?

During this transitional year, Duke TIP is working with the College Board to provide as many testing locations as possible.  Check our website for current availability. Students residing outside of the southeast region may need to travel to a nearby state for testing.

Does Duke TIP provide study materials for the PSAT 8/9?

We do not recommend that students take part in excessive test preparation. Talent search testing is diagnostic in nature, and unnecessary anxiety is often the only obvious result of some preparation programs. However, College Board has created a student guide, which does include sample questions. Students may find it helpful to be familiar with the structure of the test, time parameters for each section and recommended guessing strategies.

Does my child need identification to be accepted at the site on test day?

Standardized identification is not necessary for testers in the younger Duke TIP Talent Search (grades 4-6) program. However, students should bring their confirmation of testing registration or testing ticket.

What should I do if my child is ill the morning of the exam?

If you feel that the illness may be contagious, affect your child’s ability to concentrate, or distract other testers, please keep your child at home. College Board will not refund the testing fees due to illness.

May parents remain at the testing site during the test?

To avoid distracting testers, parents and siblings cannot remain in hallways or areas near the testing rooms. Many sites will lock entry doors when testing instructions begin to discourage interruptions and provide security for the testers. Parents may wait in cars or nearby. Parents are expected to enter the building to identify their child once testing is complete.

Can my child take this PSAT 8/9 more than once in an academic year?

Enrolled students may take this above-level test only once each academic year in grades 4–6.

What should I expect on test day?

  • Students should arrive at the testing site no later than 7:45 a.m. (or earlier if indicated on the testing ticket) to provide time for check-in and emotional preparation.
  • Students should bring #2 pencils, a good eraser and an approved calculator. They may also wish to have a bottle of water and a small snack for the short break period.
  • Students should be reminded to use the restrooms before the test begins and during break, as additional time will not be given for bathroom breaks taken during timed periods.
  • Students will be asked to present their testing ticket with emergency contact information completed before they are granted admission. (Verify the location of your ticket well before the test date.)
  • Students will be directed to assigned seats.
  • Test instructions will begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. or immediately after all students have been seated. Centers with larger capacity may require additional time for check-in.  A student arriving after instructions begin will not be admitted.
  • All instructions are read word-for-word from the supervisor’s manual to insure uniform instruction is given to all testers, regardless of where they test.
  • During testing, the only time prompt that is given is a “five minutes remaining” reminder for each section. There may not be a clock on the wall, so a watch may be helpful. Cell phones may not be outside of book packs or purses during the test, and they must be silent.
  • A break will be given and students may eat a quick snack. Some schools have a “no peanuts” policy, so please leave the peanut snacks at home.
  • All students will be dismissed after testing is completed and all testing materials have been collected. Parents should expect to enter the building and identify their child before leaving.
  • If a special accommodation that includes extra time was approved, students are required to remain for the entire time regardless of when the student actually completes the test.

What should I expect after test day?

  • College Board will send PSAT 8/9 Score reports directly to the student by early March. Inclement weather issues may slightly delay the mailing of reports. If your address changes, contact College Board at 866-433-7729 or psathelp@info.collegeboard.org and Duke TIP at 919-668-9100 or psat89tip@tip.duke.edu to update your address information and avoid delays in receiving PSAT 8/9 score report. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward test score reports.
  • Duke TIP will present a webinar explaining the PSAT 8/9 Score Report and comparison statistics this spring, after data from all testers has been received. 
  • A score results summary will also be posted at www.tip.duke.edu/psat89 after data from all testers has been received.

When will I know if my child qualifies for PSAT 8/9 honors?

  • Recognition ceremony invitations are sent to all qualifying PSAT 8/9 honorees in April.
  • Qualifying scores for recognition will be posted on our website as well as a list of student testers who qualified for honors.