Any student who has entered high school has probably heard of the PSAT. The PSAT, or the pre-SAT, is the practice test for the SAT, the standardized test taken prior to submitting applications to colleges and universities. Many students take the PSAT as a gauge of where they are in terms of their mastery of the material. Once you have your results, you can begin to troubleshoot the areas where you are having a hard time. Many students do this with a PSAT study guide.

Why Prep for the Pre-SAT?

It may seem like a silly thing to bother with a PSAT study guide. After all, the PSAT is the pre-SAT. It's not going to help you get into a college, so why prepare for it? As a matter of fact, there are a number of reasons it makes sense to prepare for the PSAT, not the least of which is the fact that a high score could land you a National Merit Scholarship.

Yes, PSAT scores are less important than SAT scores. It's a given. However, when it comes to PSAT vs. SAT prep, preparing early for the PSAT means you'll likely score high when it comes time to take the SAT. Preparing for the PSAT can also give you an honest picture of the areas in which you're strong and the areas in which you're weak and can give you the time you need to prepare for the SAT.

In terms of added incentives, if you're a high school junior, and you do well on the PSAT, you could be looking at serious scholarship money. In addition to the National Merit Scholarship, which rewards high school juniors for high PSAT scores, there are a number of other funds that are dedicated to helping high scorers pay for college. If you want to start your college application process off with a bang, getting a National Merit Scholarship is a great way to do it.

How Does PSAT Practice Help on the SAT?

The PSAT meaning is "preliminary SAT." For that reason, taking the PSAT test is essentially a marker of how you would perform on the actual SAT test if you took it that same day. This can be very good information to have, specifically if you know that you're struggling in one or more of the subject areas that are likely to be covered on the SAT. Your PSAT score is essentially a targeted study plan for the SAT.

When you choose to prepare for the PSAT with a PSAT study guide, you're making the choice to study in a way that will not only help you with the PSAT but will also help you with your SAT. Popular wisdom is that a high SAT score is no substitute for a strong GPA, but the fact is that a high SAT score can be the push that gets you accepted to a great college when you're up against a lot of students with a similar GPA.

To begin to prepare for the PSAT, you can take a practice PSAT test. These can be found in PSAT prep books, they can be found online, or they can be given to you by a teacher or guidance counselor. Try to take your practice PSAT several months before you take the actual PSAT. This will give you time to increase your score and have a better chance at a scholarship.

How to Prepare With a PSAT Study Guide

Many PSAT study guides are available online and in large workbooks. There are PSAT prep guides that are also SAT prep guides, which can do double duty, helping you prepare for both examinations. There are study guides that are provided by businesses like Kaplan, the Princeton Review and others, and there are guides you can download for free.

The guides will help you to take a practice test before you begin any studying. Once you have done it, your PSAT study guide will help you go back and correct your answers and examine your mistakes. By reviewing the areas in which you had trouble, the guide will then help you to practice the questions you missed and help you to review the key concepts you'll need to know to ace the test when it's finally time.

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About the Author

Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites. She has written for Pearson Education, The University of Miami, The New York City Teaching Fellows, New Visions for Public Schools, and a number of independent secondary schools. She lives in Los Angeles.