Black male in sweater and glasses sitting with peers in classroom taking test

6 Quick and Essential Tips to Prepare for the PSAT

Studying for the PSAT isn't silly; the more you prep for this preliminary exam, the more prepared you'll be for the real thing. Get started with these tips!

Few things are as nerve-wracking as knowing you have a big test coming up and not knowing if you're studying the right things. The PSAT is kind of like that. You know it's important, but can you really do anything to prep yourself to get a great score? The PSAT helps you practice for bigger tests like the SAT. Without the pressure of knowing that colleges will see the results, you can learn what the SAT is like, understand the question format, and get comfortable with the test's timing. And while the PSAT can potentially put you in the running for big scholarships, it’s still an excellent way for you to just gauge your grasp of lots of different topics and ideas. The practice alone makes the test worth taking, but no one wants to go into it unprepared. So what should your PSAT test prep include?

1. Challenge yourself in high school

You've probably already done a lot of the legwork for the PSAT without even realizing it. If you've taken challenging high school classes, have good study habits, and kept up with your homework, you're already ahead of the game. Remember the test assesses your broad knowledge; you don't have to know everything about every subject to get a great score.

2. Take a practice test

The College Board knows how tough it is to study for standardized tests, so they give you lots of ways to practice for the PSAT. When you register, you'll get a practice test booklet—so use it! Taking the practice test, whether on paper and online, gives you an idea of how much time you'll have and what the questions are like, so make sure you set a timer for two hours and 45 minutes! And it's okay to guess on the PSAT. The new PSAT design lets you guess without penalty; only your correct answers earn points.

Related: The Best Ways to Improve Your SAT Scores

3. Take a PSAT prep class

If you don't think you'll actually sit and take the practice tests on your own, signing up for a test prep class not only forces you to show up but also to do the work (bonus if your friends take the class with you). Some schools offer these classes, but if yours doesn't, you can find one through private tutors and organizations.

4. Utilize study apps 

Find websites that offer daily SAT practice questions. Although they're really for SAT prep, it can't hurt for you to build this into your study routine now. And it’s only one question a day—easy! You might not know all the answers, but these easy (and free) study resources get you thinking every day. And if you stumble upon something like an algebra problem that you think you should know but don't, work it out until you understand it. The more practice you get for the PSAT, the better off you'll be.

Related: Over 20 Apps to Help You Get Through Tough Finals This Semester

5. Read all kinds of books

The PSAT sections that test your vocabulary and reading comprehension are also looking to see if you can figure out words and overall meaning by analyzing context. The more you read in and out of class, the easier this will be for you. Think of it this way: Simply reading books before you go to bed is the kind of PSAT test prep you don’t even have to think about!

6. Take a breath and rest

Don't sweat the big day. It’s going to come no matter what, and staying up all night trying to cram in every last second of studying will get you nowhere. Remember: This is a preliminary test—so take it seriously but not too seriously. Get a good night's sleep the night before. Also eat some breakfast and have a big glass of water to jump-start your brain the morning of.

Related: Top Sleep Hygiene Advice for Tired Students

The PSAT helps you gain the test-taking skills you need to nail the SAT and thrive in college courses. If you’re applying to schools that require the SAT or ACT for admission, you’ll want to put your best scores forward—and taking the PSAT will help you do just that. Try your hardest and use the results to work on any weak points toward a higher score in the future. Good luck!

When you’re ready to start thinking about scheduling your official standardized tests, use our SAT and ACT Date Wheel to find a day that works for you!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:

About Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil is a freelance writer based in Bolton, Massachusetts. 

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Fabiola Rodriguez

Fabiola Rodriguez

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me on my journey to get to the school of my first choice by showing me all the options I have. I didn’t know of the College of Southern Nevada until I went on this website, and it helped me look for other choices and compare what colleges would be right for me.

Aaliyah

Aaliyah

High School Class of 2022

My mother signed me up for a couple of scholarship contests through CollegeXpress. I was also able to do some research and compare the different schools on my list. I was able to see the graduation rates and different programs that helped me decide on Adelphi University. I will continue looking for some scholarships for my start in September.

Rana Slosberg

Rana Slosberg

Slosberg College Solutions LLC

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is the 800+ lists which have all kinds of hard-to-find information. These lists are helpful when I’m creating college lists, and I also use them to give students a feel for a particular college or university.

Sarah Armstrong

Sarah Armstrong

High School Class of 2022

I am a deaf student, and I had always dreamed of going to Gallaudet University. CollegeXpress helped me search though other qualified universities. They helped me know for sure that Gallaudet University was the right choice for me!

Chris Bell

Chris Bell

Bell College Consulting

The college lists on CollegeXpress are indispensable for sussing out creative additions to a student’s list, and the college-specific pages provide terrific commentary and suggestions for related schools. CollegeXpress is among the most trusted sources I use for information for my students.

College Matches
X

Colleges You May Be Interested In

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

Grace College

Winona Lake, IN

Malone University

Canton, OH

Monmouth University

West Long Branch, NJ