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Top 5 PSAT studying tips and tricks

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Unlock your potential and ace the PSAT. Check out our top studying tips and tricks for success.

Top 5 PSAT studying tips and tricks

To perform well on the PSAT, students need to have a solid understanding of the test format, content, and strategies. In this article, we will provide the top 5 PSAT prep tips and tricks that will help students improve their test-taking skills and increase their chances of success on this crucial exam.

Everything you need to know about the PSAT

The PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) is a standardized test designed for high school students in the United States. The test is administered by the College Board and serves as a practice SAT exam, as well as a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

When you should start studying for the PSAT

Ideally, students should start preparing for the PSAT at least 6-8 weeks before the test date. This will give them ample time to review the material, take practice tests, and identify areas where they need improvement. It is important to note that the PSAT is typically taken in the fall of the junior year, so students should plan accordingly.

What to expect the night before and day of the PSAT

The night before and the day of the PSAT can be stressful for many students. To ease nerves, it is important to get plenty of rest and eat a healthy breakfast on the day of the test. Additionally, students should bring all necessary materials, such as a calculator and identification, and arrive at the test center early to avoid any last-minute issues.

What is the difference between the PSAT, SAT, and ACT

While all three tests are used for college admissions, the PSAT is primarily used to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program, while the SAT and ACT are used to assess a student's college readiness. The SAT and ACT also have slightly different formats and content, with the ACT having a science section and the SAT having an optional essay.

What to expect from the PSAT test: format and content

The Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is a standardized test that is administered to high school students in the United States to prepare students for college admissions. The PSAT tests students in math, reading, and writing, and provides an opportunity for students to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship program.

The PSAT test is formatted as a multiple-choice test with two main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and Math. The Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section is divided into two parts, Reading and Writing and Language, and lasts 60 minutes. The Reading section consists of passages and questions that test students' comprehension, vocabulary, and analytical skills. The Writing and Language section tests students' grammar, usage, and punctuation skills through passages and questions that ask them to revise and edit sentences.

The Math section is divided into two parts as well, Calculator and No Calculator, and lasts 70 minutes. The questions in this section cover a range of topics, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, as well as data analysis and problem-solving skills. The Calculator section allows the use of a calculator, while the No Calculator section does not.

In addition to the main sections, the PSAT also includes an optional essay section, which is scored separately and does not affect the overall PSAT score. The essay section asks students to analyze a given passage and provide their own perspectives on the topic. It lasts 50 minutes.

Top 5 PSAT studying hacks

With its significant role in determining eligibility for scholarship programs and serving as a precursor to the SAT, it's crucial for students to perform well on the PSAT. Fortunately, there are several PSAT studying hacks that can make the preparation process easier and more effective. Let’s explore the top 5 PSAT tips that test-takers can use to maximize their performance on this critical exam.

1. Create a study plan

Creating a study plan for the PSAT is an essential step for high school students preparing for this critical exam. It's important to avoid cramming and instead establish a consistent study schedule that allows for regular review and practice. One effective approach is to start by taking a diagnostic test to identify areas of weakness, then focusing on those topics first. When studying for the math problems on the PSAT, it's crucial to review key concepts and formulas, and for the language test, it's important to focus on grammar rules and vocabulary. By creating a structured study plan that prioritizes regular review and practice, students can increase their confidence and improve their chances of success on the PSAT.

2. Take a practice test

One of the best ways to prepare for the PSAT is to take a practice test. A PSAT practice test will give a sense of the format of the test and types of questions to expect, as well as help you identify areas where you need improvement through practice questions. You can find practice PSAT tests and prep books online, and the best PSAT prep materials include official practice tests from the College Board, review books from reputable publishers like Princeton Review and Kaplan, online courses from platforms like Khan Academy and PrepScholar, and flashcard apps like Quizlet. When reviewing practice tests, it's important to not only look at correct answers but also understand why answer choices are incorrect. This can help identify patterns and improve test-taking strategies.

3. Use text to speech tools

Text to speech tools can help you save time when studying. By listening to study materials instead of reading them, you can cover more ground in less time. This can be especially helpful if you have a busy schedule and don't have a lot of time to devote to studying for the PSAT. Additionally, hearing the information out loud can help with retention and comprehension as well as help you to absorb information faster and more efficiently than if you were just reading it silently.

4. Focus on the math section

For the math section of the PSAT, it’s essential to focus on getting comfortable with algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. To improve math skills, you should review and practice basic math concepts, such as fractions, decimals, and percentages, as these form the foundation of more complex math problems. Additionally, you should memorize important formulas such as the Pythagorean theorem and Quadratic formula and review concepts like algebraic equations and basic geometry concepts.

5. Practice reading comprehension

The reading section of the PSAT can be challenging for many students as it requires them to read and analyze complex texts within a limited amount of time. However, practicing reading comprehension can help students improve their scores on the reading test and ultimately increase their chances of success on the PSAT. One way to improve reading comprehension is to practice active reading, which involves actively engaging with the text by taking notes, underlining or highlighting key points, and asking questions as you read. Another effective strategy is to build vocabulary by reading a wide range of texts and using context clues to understand unfamiliar words.

Boost your PSAT studying with Speechify

Speechify is a fantastic tool that can help high school students prepare for the Preliminary SAT in a more efficient and effective manner. With Speechify, students can convert any digital or physical text, including study materials and practice tests, into speech that can be listened to at any time and at any speed. By using Speechify to convert their study materials, students can listen to their notes and practice tests on the go, allowing them to optimize their study time while also fitting it in around their busy schedules and boosting their productivity. Listening to study materials can be better than reading because it engages both the visual and auditory senses, improving retention and making it easier to comprehend complex concepts. Make your PSAT test prep more productive, and try Speechify for free today.


Do PSAT test scores count toward college applications?

While PSAT scores are important for many reasons, they typically do not count toward college applications. The PSAT is a practice test for the SAT, which is one of the standardized tests that some colleges require for admission.

How does the PSAT compare to the official SAT?

The PSAT is designed to be a practice test for the SAT and measures similar skills and knowledge areas. The PSAT and the SAT share the same format and types of questions, with the main differences being that the PSAT is slightly shorter and has fewer questions. The PSAT is also typically taken by students in the 10th or 11th grade, while the SAT is taken in the 11th or 12th grade.

What is considered a good score on the PSAT?

The PSAT is scored on a scale of 320 to 1520, with a score in the range of 1000 considered an average score, a score in the range of 1200-1400 considered above average, and a score above 1400 considered excellent.

What is considered a good SAT score?

Scores in the range of 1200 to 1400 are considered to be above average, and scores above 1400 are considered to be excellent.

What are the best prep courses for the SAT test?

There are many SAT prep courses available, both in-person and online, that can help you prepare for the exams, with popular options including Khan Academy, The Princeton Review, Kaplan, and PrepScholar.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.