The PSAT: Tips and Tricks for Success

Looking for some PSAT tips and tricks to ace the PSAT this year? The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, or PSAT, is usually taken in your freshman or sophomore year and while it doesn’t have any impact on your college applications, developing some of the best PSAT tips to help develop your confidence and improve your test results.

Why Should I Take the PSAT?

The most important thing about the PSAT is that it is used for many scholarship applications, including the National Merit Scholarship.  However, beyond that, the main reason to take the PSAT is to better prepare yourself for the SAT test that is looming on the horizon.

Structure of the PSAT

The PSAT underwent re-structuring in 2015 and is now a longer test, requiring 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete.

The other significant change is that there are no longer five answer options, there are only four. There are three sections in the test:

  • Reading,
  • Writing and language, and
  • Math

The number of questions on each section are fairly evenly distributed, but the time allocated to each section varies. The bulk of your time is spent on reading and math, and just 35 minutes spent on writing and language.

Now with this information you can adequately prepare for each section and adjust your study schedule based on your personal strengths and weaknesses.

PSAT Tips and Tricks

Now, if you don’t know it by now (and you ought to) then listen carefully…..any test that you are going to take requires preparation.  Do I need to repeat that? 😉  Good!

So now let’s get into PSAT tips that can help you move the needle and increase that score!

  1. Be prepared – Yes, that means reading this, reviewing what the test is like, topics covered and determining your strengths and weaknesses prior to taking the test.
  2. Get help – whether that’s in a study group or working with someone that can help with PSAT prep, it’s going to make a difference in your results.  Plus it will require you to take the time to prepare.
  3. Take a practice test – Before you start actual studying, take a full test so that you know where you stand at the outset.  This will help with knowing your strengths and weaknesses before moving forward.
  4. Set goals – we all do better if we have goals and objectives that we’re working towards.  Achievable goals of 20 – 30% better than when you first took the test isn’t unreasonable (assuming you aren’t trying to prep for the PSAT in three days…).
  5. When taking PSAT tests, make sure that you do it just like it would be done in the actual exam.  There are several reasons for this. First, you get more comfortable with the test taking environment. Secondly, you’re results will be more on target with what you might actually do in the real exam.
  6. Review results – This is critical!  With each test that you take, check and see where your results are improving and where you still might want to spend more time. As it gets closer to the actual date, increase the amount of time spent in areas where you are still weak.
  7. Prepare with SAT or PSAT books – Since there is less available resources for the PSAT as compared to the SAT, incorporate some of the questions and review using SAT questions and resources.  The types of questions and information required will be very similar and can help you.
  8. To guess or not to guess – That has been the question for years!  Now, guessing is better.  There’s no longer any penalty for guessing on the PSAT exam.
  9. Unknown answers – Like we said above, guessing is better than blanks!  One tip to help, if it’s a total guess, guess the same letter for every question if you really have no idea on any answer.  This doesn’t mean if you are down to 2 answers to guess “D” if you think it might be “B” or “A”.  But if you have no idea at all, choose one letter and every question that you find yourself in like that, always answer that letter. Statistically it will increase your chances of a few of those guessed answers being right.
  10. Spend time on question you can answer – If a question isn’t clear or you’ve got doubts, pick your default answer as we said in #9 and move on!  Got time at the end?  Come back to those that have default answers and see what you can do.  But nothing is worse than getting to the end of a test and having several unanswered questions because you ran out of time.
  11. Eliminate obvious answers – Now, we kinda mentioned this above but let’s be super clear…cross out all wrong answers to see what’s left.  You’ll be amazed how many questions you’ll then be able to answer.
  12. Read, read, read, read, read – If you like to read and practice reading you’re going to be ahead of many students.  These tests require reading and the better, faster and more observant reader you are the better you’re going to do.  Is that incentive enough to stop the video games and pick up a book?
  13. Review – take a little time and review basic grammar with a teacher or online.  In addition, make sure to take a little time and review and memorize the basic math formulas that you’ve covered to date.  Practice a few problems on your calculator so that there’s no struggle with it during the exam.

How to Cram for the PSAT –

Yes, you can do that! It’s just going to be an extremely concentrated review using the various tips we recommended above.

Start?  Begin by taking a PSAT prep test.  That’s going to give you your basics and let you know where you stand.  Next, determine what resources you’re going to use to prepare for the exam?

You can find one of our PSAT tutors easily enough to help you cram and get tips that will make a difference or you can use review guides like these in the time you’ve got available.

Allocate time no matter how many days you’ve got.  Every little bit does count and will make a difference.

Incorporate any and all of our tips above into your study time leading up to the exam.  The more time, better focus you have, the better your results!

Ok, we’ve come up with 13 PSAT Tips and Tricks to help you prepare for one of your first, of many, major test taking adventures.  By starting off on this path well prepared, you’re setting yourself up for success not only on this test but on your future SAT test and other exams as well.  So spend some time, sleep, eat and get some exercise and you just might blow by the score results that you set for yourself!  We’ve seen it happen before.

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PSAT Tutor Near Me: What You Need to Know About the PSAT

Are you looking for a PSAT tutor? Every year, approximately 3.4 million 10th and 11th graders take the PSAT across numerous high schools.  The acronym PSAT stands for Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, which essentially means that it is taken just before the SAT exams.

PSAT exam tutors

The test that is given to high school juniors and sophomores every October, is sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Foundation (NMSC), the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSC)

The two-hour PSAT is set to act as a precursor to the SAT, which is important in the life of every high school student. The PSAT is designed in a way that mirrors the SAT in terms of scoring, structure, and content. However, unlike the SAT, they do not factor towards your GPA or college admission application.

However, it is important to note that the PSAT is not mandatory for juniors and sophomores in all high schools. It is at a school’s discretion to offer the PSAT to their students. If your child’s school does not have this as an option, you are free to look around for the schools in your area and have your child take the test there. One of the BIG reasons that many consider taking this test or having their children take it is because only the scores from the PSAT are factored into the National Merit Scholarship Competition.   So if your child might qualify for that, this test is a must!

Why Is the PSAT Important?

As much as the PSAT does not factor into your child’s GPA, it is a prerequisite for consideration in the National Merit Scholarship Competition. The cutoff marks vary from state to state. The prestigious scholarship competition starts by selecting the commended scholars and semi-finalists. The semi-finalists are required to feature in the top 1% margin of students in their particular state. On the other hand, the commended scholars are required to score between the top 1% and 4% of students in their region.

On average, the National Merit Scholarship Competition has an estimated 16,000 finalists from the list of semifinalists. They aim to award up to 8200 scholarships every year. The winners each get a $2500 scholarship and the prestigious distinction of being a National Merit Scholar.

PSAT Prep – How to Prepare Your Child for the PSAT

With the importance of the PSAT for not only the National Merit Scholarship but also as prep for the upcoming SATs or ACT exams, it’s best to spend some time getting adequately prepared for it. Preparation can be extensive, and without proper guidance, your child might be overwhelmed and end up more confused and frustrated.

While many high schools offer assistance with PSAT preparation, numerous factors need to be considered to ensure that your child is receiving adequate preparation. For example, is your child or are you getting what you need from your school to prepare for this test?  Not everyone has the same needs or learns the same way and making sure that you get what you need is critical.  Is the right amount of time being spent preparing for the test and is the speed with which the material is being covered sufficient? Students learn at different rates and some require more time than others.

A tutor can become a valuable asset for your child during this time. This is where exploring options such as PSAT tutoring online to locate experienced PSAT tutors who are accessible via the Internet at hours that work for you or ones that area available to come to your preferred location.  There are also PSAT prep classes near you might be what’s needed especially if there’s only a few weeks left before you take the exam.

PSAT Tutoring – How Will a Tutor Help Your Child to Prepare?

PSAT private tutoring sessions are becoming the preferred choice for a large number of parents owing to their flexibility and their effectiveness as well. Your child is able to get undivided attention from the tutor and is even given practice tests that closely resemble the actual SAT.

Just like the SAT, the PSAT is made up of a math, grammar, and verbal section. Your child will be required to answer math problems that cover geometry questions, trigonometry as well as algebra. Solid PSAT math tutoring is highly integral in preparing your child to tackle these questions. They will also come across passage-oriented questions that will sometimes have charts, graphs, and tables. The scoring rate for each subject is on a 20 to 80 scale.

So, what are the benefits of taking your child through a PSAT prep class online or in person with a tutor?

  • The tutor will cover any topics that your child didn’t grasp in class. It is difficult for an instructor to follow up with each student to ensure that what is taught is perfectly understood. Thus, the tutor will assume the role of the instructor in a more relaxed environment and cover every question that your child may have.
  • The tutor will solely concentrate on the questions that will be featured on the PSAT. The plan that a tutor can offer is optimized for PSAT prep thus your child will get the most out of that experience.
  • Your child will receive tips and tricks for tackling the PSAT questions as well as how to make the most out of the two-hour testing window.
  • The tutor will work at your child’s pace to cover every inch of the PSAT prep course to ensure that your child is mentally and generally prepared for the test.

How Do You Find A Good PSAT Tutor?

Presently, tutors can be freelancing or can also be part of a company. No matter how you choose to find a one, the individual tutor that you select for your child needs to have skills and qualifications as well as a positive reputation and reviews in test taking, particularly for this exam. You can easily check the tutor’s previous work and reviews to that effect.

What to Look for in a PSAT Tutor:

  • Make sure your tutor has complete knowledge of the subjects that are featured on the PSAT. The sessions have to be relevant so that your child or you can get the most value out of the sessions.
  • Check the reviews and comments from prior students
  • See what topics and subjects the student has tutored in before. You don’t want to be their first student in this subject area (usually).
  • Ask the tutor questions before hiring! See how they respond and if they can explain in a way that works for you or your child.
  • Also, verify that the tutor is going to be available up as long as you will need one. It is very distracting to have to switch between tutors during the PSAT prep period.

What will PSAT tutoring cost?  There is a misconception that the it is incredibly expensive.  Frequently clients are surprised at how affordable quality tutoring can be.  And if you choose an online tutor, it might be even less expensive since tutors don’t have to transportation time or costs.


Preparing for the PSAT is a big stage in your child’s life. See that you or  your child fully comprehend the importance of the PSAT and how it can benefit you and make sure to adequately prepare for it. This will not only prepare your child for the SAT, it will also give them an opportunity to get an idea of what the future school years hold for them.  Best of luck on the PSAT test this year!

Enjoy All The Benefits

You don’t pay your first hour unless you find it a good fit.

Only pay for the time you need.

No subscriptions or upfront payments.

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call us for free to setup tutoring

(800) 417-9186
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