PSAT Tips and Tricks


Courtesy of North Avenue Education

To effectively prepare for the PSAT, students should consider taking practice tests.

Tiana Salisbury, Editor

At YLHS, students taking the PSAT will be assessed on Saturday, October 16. If students perform well on the PSAT, they are given the chance to receive a National Merit Scholarship. For this reason, students need to prepare well to ensure that they do their bests.

While studying for the PSAT, there are many methods students can look towards to help them enter the testing environment with confidence. One of the most crucial things students can do to perform well on the PSAT is practice taking the test. Simulating the testing environment creates a pressure-free experience, which enlights students as to what to expect on the actual exam day. Taking practice tests can also help students practice finishing each section of the PSAT within the time limits. Doing this can ensure that students understand how they need to pace themselves to finish in time.

Another study method students can refer to is reviewing past tests and their answers. Looking at previous years’ PSATs can give students an idea of what type of questions are usually asked in each section. For example, many PSAT tests include similar math questions, which can be mastered by understanding their general concepts. In addition to reviewing past exams, students can also take the time to review practice exams they have taken. This can help students narrow down what types of questions they usually miss so that they can spend more time focusing on a specific portion of the PSAT.

There are also numerous test-taking strategies students can use to do their bests. When taking the actual PSAT, students can skip around questions so that they complete the questions they are most confident with first. For example, if a student comes across a reading passage that they are struggling to understand, they should skip that passage, complete an easier passage, and return to the harder passage with the remaining time. This method ensures that students don’t waste a lot of time trying to figure out questions that they are having a hard time with, which gives them enough time to finish all of the questions they have a better chance of getting correct.

Students should also annotate their tests while working through passages and problems. In the reading section, annotating the passages can help students as they answer the questions that follow them. Annotating increases retention, so underlining and circling various parts of the text will guide students towards correctly interpreting each document. Students should also physically eliminate answer choices when possible. Doing so will give them a clear visualization as to what answer choices they have left to choose from.

My advice would be that students should guess on questions they are unsure of because there is no penalty for guessing, and guessing gives students more time to work on other questions.

— Megan Chou (11)

To prevent spending an extensive amount of time on one question, students should guess on questions if they need to. To elaborate, Megan Chou (11) says that “students should guess on questions they are unsure of because there is no penalty for guessing, and guessing gives students more time to work on other questions.” Since each multiple choice question has only four answer choices, students have a twenty-five percent chance of getting the answer right for guessing. Even better, if a student has already eliminated some answer choices, they will have a better chance of getting an answer right if they need to guess.

In summation, students should do what works best for them when preparing for and taking the PSAT. Each student is different, meaning various methods of test-taking may work better for some people than others. With that in mind, if you are taking the PSAT this year, make sure to find a consistent way to take the test to ensure that you are well-prepared and confident when taking the actual test. Good luck!