Less than 24 Before the PSAT – 6 Tips to Improve Your Score
- Be organized. Get all your materials together a few nights before the big test. Do not try to get the things you need for the PSAT that morning. Include some high energy snacks.
- Get a good night’s sleep. In the days before the test, changing sleep patterns is probably not a good idea. Go to bed at your regular bedtime, but limit distractions so you fall asleep quickly.
- Arrive early. Nothing can hurt your score more than being overly stressed at the start of the test. Leave plenty of time so if there is an unexpected delay (for example, a tree falls across the road) you can take an alternate route and still be on time.
- Dress appropriately and in layers. It is important to dress comfortably so that you are not adjusting your clothing or self-conscious. Wear your “power suit” – something that you feel confident in without being conspicuous. Also bring layers in case you are near a window and chilly or a heating vent and hot or if the room’s temperature tends to fluctuate.
- Do a few practice problems before the test. Arrive early and sit by yourself in the hallway. Review a few simple problems as a warm up. This is not the time to learn new concepts. It is a time to warm up for the big game!
- Breathe Deeply and Have Confidence!
With the PSAT right around the corner, there are some test prep skills you can learn now to improve your score quickly. Read Below for 10 Quick Tips
10 Quick Tips to Improve Your PSAT Score
- Learn the directions ahead of time. Never read the directions or the sample question during testing time. While the rest of the world is reading the directions, you will have answered two questions!
- Know what is meant by Order of Difficulty. The order of difficulty refers to the face that most questions become progressively more difficult.
- Learn which questions have an order of difficulty associated with them. For the most part, there is a direct order of difficulty for all PSAT questions except those which require extended reading (Passage Based Reading and Paragraph Improvement Questions).
- Write your answer in the margin. Write the answer to the questions directly next to the answer choices listed so you can find them easily and bubble them in quickly.
- Bulk transfer your answers. Don’t break testing momentum by answering and bubbling each question. Transfer questions in groups that make sense. One note of caution: Do not leave too many unbubbled answers as time begins to run out!
- Understand the scoring methods. Multiple Choice Questions are scored: +1 point for every correct answer. -1/4 point for every incorrect answer with incorrect answers rounding up at the 1/2 mark. There is no penalty for incorrect Grid-In Questions or skipped questions.
- Realize all questions are worth the same number of points. there is no additional benefit to answering difficult questions so many students do better by skipping at least some of these.
- Know where to guess and where to skip. Guessing can improve your score if you have the discipline to do it quickly. Do not waste time debating answer choices and do not waste time attempting questions you cannot do.
- Realize the PSAT takes self-discipline. For most of your school career you have approached tests using methods which can harm your PSAT scores. Skipping questions may be your best bet – something most students would never think of doing on regular school tests.
- Have confidence and remember the PSAT does not get sent on to any colleges. Unless you are looking for a National Merit Scholarship, the PSAT is an important dress rehearsal for the big day. If you are a strong enough student to be taking the PSAT/NMSQT, you should take heart in the fact that you will probably be one of the more desired college applicants and winning this scholarship, while it is a very big deal, may be more like icing on the cake of your application.
For last minute PSAT Tips, read PSAT Prep – 6 Tips to Improve Your Score The Night Before the Test (Published October 18, 2012)
The PSAT is only offered in October each year, and October is coming up fast so it is important to not procrastinate – register now for your PSAT! Interested students should go to their local high school guidance counselors or school officials and discuss how best to register for the PSAT in their area. Most high schools will host this test, but it is important to register early to ensure a seat. Also, some schools, especially smaller, private schools, will not host a PSAT so students at these schools should be especially proactive in registering for the exam. A photo ID and $14 payment must be accompanied by PSAT registration.
Unlike the SAT, the PSAT has no online registration at this point. Also unlike the SAT, the PSAT is only offered one month each year so missing important deadlines can be quite detrimental to your testing and to your wallet! Although you may be able to register for a test later than the first deadline, additional fees usually apply. Also consider that delaying registration may mean you are not be able to get the testing site you desire. An alternate testing site can mean costly travel and parking fees in some areas. Taking the test in a location with which you are unfamiliar may also mean that you have an increased anxiety level which may be detrimental to your score.
While college admissions officers do not generally look at PSAT scores when considering applicants, the PSAT’s are important as a practice SAT. There are significant differences between the PSAT’s and the SAT’s; however, the question style, and test format among other things make the PSAT an important aspect of PSAT test prep. It is also very important for those students hoping to qualify for the NMSQT – National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. I will write more on the NMSQT in my future blog post: The PSAT’s – How to Prep for Your NMSQT.
Due to requests for more classes, The Right Path is pleased to announce two additional classes now available to help students prepare for the October tests.
PSAT Test Prep
This class runs two consecutive Saturdays, October 6th and 13th, from 8:30 – 11:30 AM at the Baptist Church, Astor Road, Rhinebeck, NY 12572. Fee $180.
Topics Covered: Test specific strategies (including guessing, timing and pacing, order of difficulty, and more), test directions and approach to questions, a brief review of the most commonly tested academic content, and sample questions and explanations.
Register Now for your PSAT Test Prep
SAT Test Prep – One Day Workshop
This class is one day only from 3:00 – 8:00 PM, Tuesday, October 2nd at the Baptist Church, Astor Road, Rhinebeck, NY 12572. Fee $180.
With only a few days left before their final SAT, what can seniors do at the last minute to improve their scores? This class will cover test taking strategies, approach to questions, and last minute tips to boost confidence as well as a review of questions and explanations to some of the most commonly tested question types.
Register Now for the SAT One Day Workshop
Did You Know?
Did You Know there is More to the College Board than just testing?
- The College Board was founded over 100 years ago and is about a lot more than just the SAT.
- The College Board serves over 7,000,000 students and parents each year.
- Approximately 23,000 public and private high schools across the United States use the College Board in one facet or another.
- More than 1/2 the public schools in the country use the PSAT/NMSQT.
- The College Board does not just test high school juniors and seniors. Actually, the College Board serves students from middle school through college.
- In recent years, minority use of the College Board services has risen approximately 78%.
- The College Board is also responsible for AP exams and CLEP tests.
College Board Information:
College Board (2009). The Official SAT Study Guide. Plano, TX: College Board Publications.
College Board (2012). Who We Serve. Retrieved from http://about.collegeboard.org/who