How to Prepare for the PSAT


Menchville’s Spirit Week, this year, doesn’t just involve dressing up every day and getting excited for Homecoming. Wednesday, October 14th will be the official day for the Sophomores and Juniors to take the PSAT. Don’t groan and whine just yet. The PSAT presents a lot of opportunities for those preparing for college, and still helps with a lot of skills if higher education may not be your next step after high school. Taking the PSAT prepares you for the real SAT, a longer and more rigorous test. Both, the PSAT and SAT, are timed tests and both tests have the same types of questions: reading, math, and writing skills. So, here are some tips to remember for the days leading up to the PSAT:

Knowing What You’re Facing

  1. Don’t Panic. Understanding and being able to analyze questions is much more difficult if you feel panic or anxiety.
  2. Get to know the test. The PSAT and SAT are both standardized tests. Every test taker is taking the test under the same conditions as you, allowing scores to be compared evenly.
  3. Practice. While the PSAT is the practice for the SAT, it wouldn’t hurt to take a few practice tests online for the PSAT.  You can take some sample tests on the Collegeboard website.

Readying Yourself for the SATs: Remember, even though the sophomores and juniors will be taking the PSAT on Wednesday, October 14th, the PSAT is a practice for the real SAT. So, any studying and readying habits developed when preparing for the PSAT will help when it comes to studying for the SAT.

  1. Prepare over time.
  2. Practice reading short, non-fiction articles in preparation for the reading section.
  3. Learn from your mistakes. After taking a practice test, go back over the questions and answers so you can make sure to study in those particular areas you missed.
  4. Focus on your weak areas and identify problems you might have during the test. The PSATs and SATs are multi-subject tests. Make the most of your study time by devoting your time to studying those areas you are not as confident in.
  5. Keep your morale high. It is important to prepare mentally and emotionally. A positive attitude can make the difference between whether you do good or great on the PSAT and SAT.

Right before the PSAT and SAT

  1. Get a good night’s sleep and eat a healthy breakfast.
  2. Try not to be nervous on test day.
  3. If allowed, bring water during the test to stay hydrated.

Sitting the PSAT and SAT

  1. Read the question before you write the answers. By reading the question, you can get an idea for what the answer might be and you are less likely to be messed up by other answers.
  2. Do not take too long on any one question and manage your time wisely. On the PSAT and SAT, unanswered questions do not count against you. If you come across a question you might have trouble with, mark your spot and move onto the next question. Come back to the question later if you have time.

While the PSAT is a big helper in preparation for the SAT, do not stress about it. On the day of the test, eat a good breakfast and be awake, having gotten a good night’s sleep. As long as you have studied, you are prepared and should not worry. If you get a few problems wrong, it’s no big deal. Just remember to learn from your mistakes and try your best. Good luck!!