Archive for the ‘PSAT test prep’ Category

What’s a Good PSAT Score?

Thursday, May 16th, 2013
PSAT test

PSAT exam

“Let Go Of That Score”

If you are worried about your college entrance exam scores – namely the standardized tests – you should be…somewhat.  For those suffering from score-induced panic, know that your scores, while important, should never infiltrate your self-esteem, let alone be a measure of it.

Let the others worry about themselves; you’ll have enough to manage!  First up in your unique standardized testing path is taking the PSAT in October of 11th grade.  A shortened version of the SAT, the 2 hour and 10 minute PSAT serves two main purposes: 1) to give you a rough (and ONLY ROUGH!) idea of your overall multiple choice questions performance, and 2) to qualify the top 1% scorers for National Merit Semi-finalist eligibility.  While prestigious, National Merit is a separate, later series of steps to take.  Right now, dismiss that concept altogether.  Take the PSAT with as much focus as possible.  The outside, overwhelming world only compromises your best efforts if you let it! (more…)

What is the PSAT?

Friday, March 22nd, 2013


Preparing for the SAT can be daunting and confusing for parents and students, and we get all kinds of questions about how the test is scored, how to prepare for it, how much it counts, what a “good” SAT score is, etc. etc. The one thing we never get asked (at least not by students who have grown up in the United States) is “what is the SAT?”

The SAT has been around for almost a century. Your parents probably took it, and they might even remember what their scores were. Ask them what they got on the PSAT, however, and they will probably look at you blankly. It’s likely that they took it (it was created in 1959), but it’s equally likely that they forgot all about it, because they weren’t really sure why it mattered. (more…)

Does the PSAT Count?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
Preliminary SAT

Preliminary SAT

The Preliminary SAT or PSAT is a test administered by the College Board to juniors (and some sophomores) in October.  It is a test that officially marks the beginning of your SAT process and is a helpful diagnostic tool.  The PSAT contains the same kinds of questions you find on the SAT and therefore gives you a good sense of what the actual test is like.

The PSAT includes multiple-choice questions on vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, algebra, geometry, and numbers and operations.  It covered this material exactly as the SAT does, but with half the number of sections. (more…)

Preparing for the PSAT

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

PSAT exam

What can I do for the SATs as a sophomore? Is it too early to start preparing?

In many schools both in New York and around the country the SAT process begins in the spring of students’ sophomore year. These schools have begun administering the first of two PSATs at this time to give students an early taste of the SAT. While most students won’t take the actual SAT Exam the first time for about a year, many institutions are feeling like earlier is better to get students acclimated to the exam

For many families this causes an incredible amount of stress. They can’t believe the SAT exam is already upon them and parents become frantic to learn more about the exam process and to get their child prepared. First off, relax. This is the first of two Pre-SATs and is meant to get students comfortable with the SAT exam, a goal that is severely undermined by a having a heart attack over it. You have time. Months of study and practice tests are ahead for you, and you will have the time to address whatever challenges you discover the SAT test presents for you when you take it. Getting this early diagnostic information can only help you.

All this being said, there are some things you can do in your sophomore year to prepare for the PSAT and SAT. It is important to set concrete, simple goals and don’t attempt to “solve” the whole exam at one. You have time to work, remember. Students often find it useful to take look at a few sample SAT questions. It’s always helpful to familiarize yourself with the kinds of questions being asked on the PSAT and SAT so you don’t feel surprised at any point. The question types on both tests are the same. Also, on the SAT itself you will be required to write an essay and your sophomore year is a great time to start thinking about books you’ve read, historical events that interest you or current events you have on the brain that might serve as great fodder for your SAT essay.

You are beginning an exciting process that will culminate in going to college.  Relax, work hard, and you’ll be in a great position to make your dreams become reality.

The Importance of the PSAT

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

For many students and parents, the PSAT is their first encounter with the SAT process and it can be very daunting. The format is foreign, the PSAT’s relationship to the SAT unknown, and thus the PSAT’s importance seems vague.  A lot of misinformation gets spread in school communities about the PSAT, so lets try and dispel the myths.

Colleges do not see the PSAT.  The PSAT, or Preliminary SAT, is a diagnostic tool for students and parents to get a sense of what the SAT is like.  Colleges have no access to your score, nor are they interested in it. It is a test that is, first and foremost, for the student.

The only practical ramification of the PSAT pertains to the National Merit Scholarship.  Students who place in the 99th percentile (in most states) of the PSAT become eligible for a National Merit Scholarship.  A high score doesn’t guarantee that you will be awarded a scholarship, it only means you are eligible.  Basically, it’s the cherry on top, but not the real purpose of the PSAT exam.

The real purpose of the PSAT is to see where a student stands in relationship to the SAT.  The PSAT consists of 5 sections: 2 math sections, 2 reading sections, and 1 writing section. While the question types and content covered on the PSAT is also covered on the SAT, the SAT exam is much longer. The SAT consists of 10 sections (one of which is experimental and not graded). The remaining 9 sections of the SAT break down into 3 math sections, 3 reading sections, 2 writing sections, and an essay.

All of these affinities between the SAT and PSAT remaining true, it’s still a mistake to put TOO much weight on the PSAT score as an indicator of how a student will perform on the SAT.  If you read CATES’ upcoming newsletter (posted on our site in early 2012) you can find out exactly the ways the PSAT score is not a great gauge of the SAT.  The PSAT is really just a taste of the SAT and a student’s first opportunity to understand the testing process. Study hard, be prepared, but don’t freak out.