The key to preparing for the PSAT is CAKE or consistently applied knowledge every day. If you consistently sit down to study and apply the knowledge you know every day about what you expect to be on the test, then you will be prepared to soar through this nearly four-hour test.
Taking a PSAT test does more than prepare you for the big day of official test taking. While the PSAT isn’t required and college admission boards won’t consider it, preparing for and taking the preliminary test has many benefits.
Why Take the PSAT?
The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is more important than you may think. It not only can be a good indicator of how you will do on the SAT, but it can also place you ahead of the pack in the fierce competition for lucrative scholarships and shore up your confidence for taking the near four-hour standardized test.
How Your PSAT Score Matters
- Scholarships: Your PSAT score is used by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to judge finalists for lucrative corporate institutional grants and merit scholarships. A good score on the PSAT puts you ahead of those waiting to take the SAT and takes the stress off of applying to college and awards as you move forward.
- Weak Areas: The PSAT prep that you complete will give you a leg up in study habits that will benefit you for the more rigorous class work you will face in college. It will also point out areas you may not realize you are weak in before you take the SAT.
- SAT Score: Your PSAT prep and score is a reliable indicator of how well you will do on the actual SAT. It can point out weak study habits and pinpoint what subjects need your attention before officially taking the SAT.
Prepare for the SAT
Know all you can about the SAT before stepping into the test center to ensure you get the highest score possible. The SAT is made of math and evidence-based reading and writing. It has an optional 50-minute essay. The entire SAT has a fixed time of three hours and 45 minutes to complete with short breaks.
Reading Portion of the SAT
The 65-minute reading test has 52 questions that are multiple-choice and five written passages. To do well, try to spend no more than five minutes reading each passage. Each passage contains around 500 to 750 words, and the answers to the multiple choice questions can be found within the text.
Math Section on the SAT
The 80-minute math section has a total of 58 questions. The first section is 25 minutes and no calculator can be used. You are given a short break before the following 55-minute section with an approved calculator. A reference sheet is available during the test, which you should memorize before test day.
PSAT Tips and Tricks
Don’t go into the PSAT cold. You should study for it just as you would the SAT. There are a few things you can do to get ready to prepare for the PSAT.
Proven PSAT tips include:
- For math PSAT prep, go over practice math problems to refresh your memory or try online prep.
- Complete online PSAT practice tests in the weeks before you are scheduled to take the PSAT.
- Join a study group, take a PSAT prep class or join an online community of students preparing for the SAT.
- Apart from all of the studying you will do for what you know will be on the SAT, you should also get ready for what it will be like to sit down for that length of period and take the test. An online practice test can be a great way to prepare for the actual lengthy test.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.