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6 PSAT Tips and How to Study for PSATS

6 PSAT Tips and How to Study for PSATS

psat psat/nmqts Jan 02, 2022

Sometimes, preparing for college can be just as much (or sometimes more) work than the classes themselves. Did you know that college prep starts long before your senior year in high school? In fact, it can begin as soon as eighth grade with the PSAT or Preliminary SAT test. Students can take advantage of these PSAT tips to prepare for their first steps towards college early on!

What is the PSAT?

So what is the PSAT anyway? Just what it sounds like! PSAT stands for Preliminary SAT, which is basically an easier, shorter version of the SAT test that juniors and seniors take to help them get into college. The PSAT is available beginning in 8th grade until 10th grade. Students generally take the test to qualify for a merit scholarship to pay for college. However, it can also be used as preparation for the SAT test that will help determine potential college acceptance.

So what is at stake when taking the PSAT? In general, not a lot in the grand scheme of things. The test can help qualify you for one of 7,500 national merit scholarships. In addition, it can help you understand what the SAT will be like. However, the SAT is much longer and more advanced. Keep reading for PSAT tips to help you prepare for the test!

How To Study for PSATS

Now that you know what the PSAT is, you should understand how to study for PSATs. The
PSAT is a timed test and is scored based on the total number of correct questions. It is best to at least guess on questions that you don’t know the answer to make sure all questions are answered and at least have a chance at being correct. The following PSAT tips will help you have the best possible chance and make educated guesses to achieve the highest possible score for you!

Know What to Expect

Before studying for the test, you need to know what to expect on the PSAT. The time limit
applied to the test depends on the level of testing being performed. For the eighth and
ninth grade PSAT, the test is two hours and 25 minutes long. The tenth-grade test has an
additional 20 minutes bringing it to two hours and 45 minutes.

For the lower levels, reading is 55 minutes, writing and language is 30 minutes, and math is 60 minutes. There are 42 reading questions, 40 writing and language questions, and 38 math questions. For the tenth-grade test, reading is 60 minutes, writing and language is 35, and math is 70. There are 47 reading questions, 44 writing and language questions, and 48 math questions.

The PSAT is scored based on evidence-based reading and writing, and math. The score ranges from 240-1440 for eighth and ninth grade to 320-1520 for tenth grade. The scores are based on benchmarks set forth by the College Board at 390 reading and writing and 430 math in the eighth and ninth grades and 410 in reading and writing, and 450 math in tenth grade. The benchmarks that the College Board provides determine the likelihood of a student receiving passing grades (above a C) in the following semester, however, the average scores are higher.

For eighth grade, the mean average score is 835. For ninth-grade students, the average is 892. Finally, tenth-grade students average 959. Just because the focus is reading, writing, and math does not mean that other skills are not tested. According to the College Board, students should have an understanding of history, social studies, science, and math. The test is designed to test students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as the application of their learning through reading and writing.

Take Practice Tests

What better way to really understand how to be successful on the test than to take practice tests? While they are not necessarily as structured as the actual test, you can time them yourself to see how well you do. This will give you a good idea of the types of questions that you may see on the test as well as how the questions are structured.

Play to Your Strengths

As you go through the test, remember that you are scored based on the number of correct answers. That means that you will get a zero for the questions that you do not answer at all. For this reason. It is most beneficial to skip the questions you do not know or make an educated guess and spend more time on the questions you know. For example, in the math section, you may be great at geometry but bad at algebra. It would be best to answer all the geometry questions first and then come back to the algebra questions and answer as many as possible with the remaining time.

Process of Elimination

There are many multiple-choice questions that you may run into throughout the test. If you find multiple-choice questions that you do not know the answer to, determine the choices that you know are not correct and make an educated guess for the remaining options.

Practice Reading Comprehension

Reading is one of the most complex parts of the test for some students due to the timer. It is a good practice to read the questions first, then look back at the reading to find the answer. This can be an especially helpful strategy if you are a slow reader, so you do not have to read the passages several times.

Practice Spelling and Grammar

There will be spelling and grammar questions on the test that are designed to ensure that you understand not only proper spelling and grammar but also know common misuse of the English language. There are many things that sound correct that are actually not grammatically correct. Familiarize yourself with common mistakes and misuse.

Familiarize Yourself with Math Formulas

Finally, memorize the common math formulas such as the slope of a line or the quadratic
formula. This can help you breeze through the math section!

Now, you’re ready to start practicing and preparing for the PSAT. Still need help? Contact Ryan Clark today to see how he can help you prepare for college and the tests that will help get you there!


Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

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