2First of all, take care of your health… Don’t cram the night before! Practice a little every day leading up to the test.Rest well the night before the test.On the day of the test, eat a healthy breakfast – proteins and grains, not refined sugars and fats (oatmeal and yoghurt, not Monster and a donut).Don’t be late and avoid things that stress you out. Your mental state is key to doing well.
3Some things to keep in mind: The company that makes the PSAT earns a fortune making questions that trick students into choosing wrong answers. Always beware of traps!Answers are never correct just because they ‘sound’ right. Because ETS makes so much money making the test, they have to have a clear, logical justification for each answer (or they would get sued). As you practice, always try to clearly articulate to yourself the reason for choosing your answer.The way to make a high score is to work through practice sections. The more you practice, the better your score will be. Check collegeboard.org for extra practice.
4Think outside the bubble! In all sections except for the Critical Reading, the questions are in order from easiest to hardest. Work through sections in the order that is best for you – get the easy ones first and then work to the difficult ones.There is no penalty for guessing, so make sure that you answer every question.It is exceptionally rare for 4 answers in a row to be the same. If you see that you have answered the same choice four times in a row, make sure to go back and check for your wrong answer.Always eliminate wrong answers first! It’s much easier to find a couple of wrong answers than to look for the one correct answer. Process of elimination is your friend!
5The Verbal SectionThe 1st, 3rd, and 5th section of the PSAT are known as the ‘verbal section’. This section is composed of three question types: sentence completion, critical reading, and writing skills.Sentence Completion – these are vocabulary questions where you fill in the blank(s) in a sentenceCritical Reading – Answer questions related to academic writing selectionsWriting Skills – These questions involve grammar and editingParagraph Improvement – These are revision questions which ask you to improve the readability of a passage. These only appear once on the entire test.
6English Tips for the Verbal Section (especially if English is not your native language) Study up on your prepositions + idioms. They show up in pairs.ex. John’s friends are different to mine should be John’s friends are different from mine.Study tenses – remember that there is present, past, and future, and a sentence shouldn’t switch between them. Practice your verbs!Make sure that the number stays consistent – for example:ex. My friends will be a good student in college.Use process of elimination every time. You can often get the correct answer by finding and eliminating the wrong answer.
7Sentence Completion Strategies Fill in the answer yourself before you look at the answer choices. This will greatly help you to know which answer choice you’re looking for.Use process of elimination for any answers that don’t fit.Use key words (however, additionally, in order to) to understand the relationship in the sentence.If you have a question with two blanks, focus on only the easiest one.Study Latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots in order to get the hardest questions.
8Critical Reading (is special). Read the blurb – at the top of some articles is a 1-2 sentence summary of the article which sometimes contains important information. Make sure you read and refer to this.There is no order of difficulty in this part. Instead of doing the questions in order, start with the detail questions and work to the general questions. In other words – wait to answer questions about the whole article until the end.Paraphrase the questions: make sure to put the questions into your own words first. If you don’t understand a question, how can you answer it?Do not read the entire article! As you work from detail questions to general questions, you will end up reading the article. Read only the blurb and the beginning so that you can get the main idea of the author.As with the sentence completion questions, try to think of your own answer first before reading the choices.Beware of exact phrasing! Usually if an answer choice contains the exact same text as the article, it is incorrect.Texts are academic and a drawn from a variety of subjects: science (biology, medicine), humanities (music, philosophy), social sciences (politics, economics), and narrative (novels, short stories).
9Writing SkillsThe writing skills section is basically a test of grammar and editing.Sentence Correction Questions – ask you to fix the underlined section of a sentence.Error ID Questions – Ask you to find the error out of 5 underlined parts of a sentence.Improving Paragraphs Questions – Ask you to revise a short section to make it more coherent.
10Writing Skills TipsDon’t choose answers because they ‘sound right’. Sound is one of the many tricks that ETS uses to fool students into choosing incorrect answers. Hence…Articulate your answers – you should be able to explain what the mistake is that you are trying to fix. (Naturally, process of elimination is a friend here.)Study your basic grammar rules – know what errors of agreement, tense, and ambiguity are. If you are familiar with these, you’ll be much more confident on the test.20% of these questions will be correct as is. If you try a question and can’t find an error, go through the list of common errors in your head. If you still can’t find an error, you should feel confident about choosing ‘no error’.Make sure to do the easiest questions first and save the hardest ones for last – this is especially important on Improving Paragraphs questions.