PSAT Test Prep Tips: Essential Advice

Prepping for the PSAT? Good idea, because this is one practice test that's definitely worth taking. Here's how to study for it.

Prepping for the PSAT? Good idea, because this is one practice test that's definitely worth taking. Here's how to study for it.

Few things are as nerve-racking 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 can help 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?

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.

Practice taking the 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—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.

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.

Get the app

Sign up for the daily SAT practice question app. It's really for SAT prep, but 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 this easy (and free) app gets you thinking every day. And if you stumble on 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.

Read all kinds of books

The PSAT sections that test your vocabulary and your reading comprehension are also looking to see if you can figure out words and overall meaning by analyzing context. The more you read in class 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!

Don't forget to rest

Don't sweat the big day. Get a good night's sleep the night before. Eat some breakfast if you can and have a big glass of water to jump-start your brain.

The PSAT gives you good skills to gear up for the important SAT scores that colleges will see. Do your best and use your results to work on any weak points. Good luck!

What are you doing for your PSAT test prep? Do you need help in any areas? Let us know in the comments or right here.

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About Julia Quinn-Szcesuil

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


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