The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test is considered practice for the SAT and gives students the opportunity to enter national scholarship programs. Studying the night before the test can help you brush up on the test material, but don't cram. Instead, study each section of the test briefly. Also, make sure you eat well and get enough sleep so you'll feel rested and healthy when you take the test.
Fill in Those Blanks
Practicing sentence completion is helpful the night before the test, but don't overdo it. This portion of the exam primarily tests your vocabulary skills, along with your ability to infer meaning from the context of the sentence. There are only 13 sentence completion questions on the test, so practicing a full section should be sufficient. Keep a dictionary nearby to help with unfamiliar words, but really focus on the sentences: pay attention to the clues each sentence gives you about which answer is correct. Your ability to take advantage of context will benefit you as much as your extensive vocabulary.
Practice Your Passages
There are 35 passage-based reading questions on the PSAT, and so you'll want to practice these the night before the test. Answer at least 15 from a practice exam to get yourself into critical reading mood, but then change strategies. Start by reading the answers to the question. Then read the passage and identify the specific information that makes the correct answer true. By doing this you will condition yourself to focus on specific details within written passages. You can also use this strategy when taking the actual exam.
Read Through the Arithmetic
The best way for you to prepare for the mathematics portion is to practice any specific types of problems that you find difficult, and read over the formulas you'll need to know to solve them. For example, if quadratic equations are troublesome for you, you'll want to make sure you understand how to apply the quadratic formula. Don't focus on learning new concepts the night night before the test -- it's too late for that. Instead, make sure you're comfortable with the material that you have dedicated to studying.
While you don't want to write an entire essay the night before the test, you can prepare for how you will organize your essay. Choose a prompt for a practice exam and proceed through all of the pre-writing stages right up until the point when you would begin your draft. Start by compiling everything you might want to say about your subject into lists. Then, write a focused list of your topic, your main points and the examples you plan to use to prove those points. Finally, write an outline that illustrates the exact structure you would use for that essay. You might not be able to prepare for the prompt you'll be given, but you can certainly prepare for how you will handle it.
Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."