Test Day

A student sitting at her desk taking notes

Should you opt in to taking the PSAT 8/9 as a diagnostic tool for determining the extent of your student’s abilities, please keep the following in mind for the day of the test.

Before the test

Be sure your student eats well, relaxes, and gets a good night's sleep the night prior to testing. You should also double check the testing time and location, which are printed on the test admission ticket. Start times may vary slightly by test center. Typically, you should arrive no later than 7:45 a.m. If you arrive after the test administrators begin giving instructions, you will not be admitted.

What to bring

You don’t need to worry about bringing standardized identification, which is not necessary for 4th–6th Grade Talent Search students. However, you should bring the testing "ticket" provided by the College Board, as confirmation of testing registration. You will be asked to provide it to the testing center before your student is allowed in.

Note: you may bring either the confirmation email sent to you by the College Board (from pnsupportservices@info.collegeboard.org) or the hard copy ticket received in the US mail. Please check your junk mail folder if you cannot find the email.

Your student should also bring number 2 pencils, a good eraser, an approved calculator, as well as a bottle of water. A watch may also be helpful as some testing centers may not have a clock.

What to expect

After your student is admitted, they will be directed to an assigned seat. Once all students are seated, the test administrators will begin providing instructions. During the test, students will receive a warning five minutes before the end of each section—but that’s it.

Cell phones are not allowed outside of backpacks or purses, and they must be on silent, so they cannot be used to track time or as a calculator.

Parents and dismissal

Most testing centers do not have sufficient staff to provide a parent waiting area in the building, and—to avoid distracting testers—parents and siblings cannot remain in hallways or areas near the testing rooms. Many sites will also lock entry doors when testing instructions begin to discourage interruptions and provide security for the testers. Some parents choose to wait in their cars outside the testing building or to relax nearby until the testing session is over.

Students will be dismissed once testing is complete and all materials have been collected.

If your student receives a special accommodation that includes extra time, the student must stay for the entirety of their allotted time, even if they complete the test early.

Inclement weather and missing the test

Inclement weather make-up days have been scheduled for Saturday, February 24, and Sunday, February 25. If your area experiences inclement weather or other issues, be sure to check school closings lists on local media on Friday night and Saturday morning before going to the test center. Students who cannot attend the established testing makeup date of February 24 or February 25 will not be refunded testing fees.

Testing complaints

The PSAT 8/9 is administered by the College Board, not Duke TIP. You should report all problems to them so they can improve their process. However, we also want to know if you encounter a problem on test day. Feel free to contact us with any concerns at psat89tip@tip.duke.edu or (919) 668-9100.

Students qualify for the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search by achieving a score in the 95th percentile or higher on a qualifying exam. Once enrolled, for a onetime fee, they receive access to benefits until the end of sixth grade, including optional above-level testing; enrichment activities like the book club, writing and illustration contest, and specialized publications; and eligibility to apply to TIP’s educational programs.