PSAT/NMSQT study tips


The practice SAT is coming up soon in October. I remember taking this in my junior year and while it was easy, there were still some tricky questions. One of the things you should know is that the test is more about your skills in math, reading, and writing, and not about factual knowledge. Here are some other things you should consider in each category:

Section 1: Writing

This section is not included in the PSAT, but I thought I’d give you a few tips in order to prepare for it on the actual SAT. The first thing you need to be aware of is that you cannot plan out your essay and have to write it out as you think it. However, the good thing is that they give you a certain issue and just ask your opinion about it. It’s just a test about your common sense and whether you can use it to write a good, well-written essay. You don’t need to use big fancy words, just spell out your thoughts clearly. Don’t worry about the grading system, just focus on getting your point across. Five paragraphs should be enough, don’t try and fill out the entire space they give you.

Section 2: Math

As long as you understand what’s given to you, the math section shouldn’t be that hard. Anyone that has taken algebra should be okay in this section. On the first page, you’ll get a little area where there’s notes and references. Knowing what the diagrams and numbers mean, along with simple equation knowledge, should make it a breeze.

Section 3: Reading

People usually struggle with this only because they aren’t paying attention. Read it carefully, underline important sentences, and understand the question. Use common sense and think about how the person is writing aswell.

Section 4/5: Sentences

Read the answers before the question. They’re basically asking you which one is right and it’s easier just to narrow them down to two or the one, then read it with the replacement. I know that they tell you to read the question first, but it’s very confusing with these. The second part, which gives you sentences with one error, or none, is just having to read it and point out the first mistake you see/or don’t. The third part is sentence revision in essays and is basically “which sounds better?” and “which sentence is better to add?” type of questions.

Section 6: More math and numbers

Again, just understand basic algebra and math equations and you should be fine. This part doesn’t have to do with shapes or degrees.

Section 7: Phrases

Process of elimination works wonders in this section. Like if there’s two words and one doesn’t make sense, then it isn’t it. Read the question and cross out words that don’t have anything to do with the sentence. Understanding the passages and reading them carefully and making notes helps too.

After these sections, the test just keeps on repeating itself with different questions.

So really, don’t worry too much about knowing the different angles, just know what Pi is (?), how to find a slope, and simple algebra. At most test centers, they’ll completely destroy your calculator’s data beforehand, so don’t bother with the programs they have out there for the made for Texas Instruments applications that people have made. For the reading and writing sections, I’d suggest for you to learn all the Latin prefixes and suffixes that will help you to identify the meanings of words easily.

Take your time and don’t rush through it. If you don’t answer a question, they don’t count it against you. There are accommodations to get extra or unlimited time, however, you need the documents to prove you need it. Let me just advise you to NOT worry about getting a not so great score though, because to be honest, the way this test is set up, it’s unfair to those who can’t think fast enough. Colleges nowadays have their own test that you can take, and if you’ve done well in high school and have scholarships, they can let that 1200 slide past them. I don’t necessarily think taking an SAT prep class is a good thing, it gets boring very easily. Buying a certified book or just studying the practice tests they have available will be more helpful.

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