A Complete Overview of the PSAT Math Sections

Feb 22, 2022 | Turito Team USA

psat math

Overview of the PSAT

The PSAT is far more than a practice test. While your PSAT result will undoubtedly give you a head start for the SAT by highlighting which topics you need to work on, it may also qualify you for national scholarships!

The PSAT Math questions examine students on various mathematical subjects, both with and without a calculator. Keep scrolling to check the structural layout and what math is on the PSAT to help you prepare for the PSAT Math questions!

PSAT Math

Would you want to go into a basketball game without a defensive strategy if you were a player? Most likely not! So, don’t show up to the PSAT without one! Being strategic about approaching the PSAT math questions may make a major difference in your score. For many test-takers, the mathematics component of the PSAT might be difficult, but with enough practice, it can be simple and even pleasant!

Preparing for the PSAT Math questions may be a stressful affair. Learning more about what you’ll see on the PSAT might help to calm your nerves before the test. So let’s discover how to accomplish it in this session.

What Math is on the PSAT

Firstly, the PSAT is divided into the following sections: a calculator-optional 45-minute segment and a non-calculator 25-minute segment. There are 48 questions in these sections: 40 multiple-choice and eight student-created answers (or “grid-in”) questions. The multiple-choice questions include four alternative responses; students must identify the right response. 

Students must calculate and grid the right answers for the grid-in questions; no response options are provided. Some grid-in questions may have many right answers.

The Math on PSAT is divided into four sections: the core of algebra, problem-solving and data analysis, the passport to advanced math, and different math topics such as limited geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus. 

Math area 

Topics

Core of Algebra Analyzing and solving equations and systems of equations effectively; developing expressions, equations, and inequalities to depict connections between quantities and solve problems formula rearranging and interpretation
Problem-Solving and Data Analysis Algebraic expression substitution and simplifying; exponent properties; algebraic word problems; linear equations and inequalities; systems of equations and inequalities; rational and radical equations; equations of lines; absolute value; direct and inverse variation; quadratic equations; algebraic functions
Advanced Math Volume; the Pythagorean theorem; isosceles, equilateral, and right triangles; parallel and perpendicular lines; coordinate geometry; slope; transformations
Extra Math Topics Probability; data interpretation; statistics; mean, median, and mode

How to Strategize for PSAT Math Questions?

If you want to be successful in one go, then it’s really important to strategize your steps. Let’s tackle all of those problems to optimize your PSAT Math score.

Use these steps to increase your PSAT Math score. These steps are universally applicable and mirror the finest test-taking habits.

Implement the following three steps:

Step 1: Read the question, and identify and organize important information. 

  • What information have I been given?

Take a few moments to scribble down the provided information and put comparable items together.

  • Distinguish the question from the framework.

Sometimes word problems contain information that is not required to answer the question. Feel free to delete any irrelevant information while solving the question.

  • What distinguishes the response options?

Reading option answers can assist you in determining the most effective approach to complete a multiple-choice arithmetic problem. If the response options are decimals, rewriting your final result as a basic fraction is a waste of effort; instead, utilize your calculator.

  • Is it better to label or make a diagram?

If the question specifies a form or figure but does not supply one, draw a diagram of the shape or figure and make notes on it. If you are given a statuette, spend a few moments identifying it with data from the question.

Expert Advice: Don’t assume you know the answer to a question when you see it. When many students encounter an equation, they instantly start solving it. Solving arithmetic problems without properly reading them might lead you astray on test day.

 Step 2: Decide on the best strategy for answering the question. 

Search for patterns.

There are numerous ways to answer PSAT Math questions. To complete all of the questions, you must solve them as quickly as possible. If you’re ready to meet any time-consuming arithmetic, take a moment to explore time-saving shortcuts.

Choose numbers or apply simple math. While you can always answer a PSAT math question using what you’ve learned in school, it isn’t necessarily the quickest option. On problems that explain numerical connections (such as percentages) but do not utilize numbers, you can typically save time on test day by employing tactics such as picking numbers rather than basic math.

Getting clever about question sequences is also one method you may use to help you answer more questions and get them properly. Question sequencing is important because:

  • The PSAT is a timed exam. You’ll only have roughly a minute per question. Most students will be unable to answer all of the questions in that amount of time.
  • It will make no difference whether the question is easy or difficult.

Students’ best technique is to start with simple questions. Assume you can answer three simple questions when answering two difficult questions. You may gain three points on the simple questions in the same length of time it took you to earn two on the tough questions. You’ll also have a higher chance of collecting the points because you’ll be more likely to answer the questions correctly.

Understand your talents and shortcomings, and prepare appropriately. If you excel in algebra but struggle with geometry, postpone the geometry problems and begin with algebra later. That is your high-yielding fruit.

Alternatively, if you typically perform well on the free-response questions but stumble with the multiple-choice questions, start with the free-response questions, even towards the end of the assessment.

You could only work on one portion at a period, but you can do the questions in whatever sequence you like within that section. If a question is too difficult for you, make an arbitrary response and move on. Don’t squander your time on that. Always respond to each question because there is no wrong answer penalty, so you might as well take a gamble. There is one correct answer from the four options, so give yourself a chance.

Expert Advice: The PSAT will not award extra points for answering tough questions.

Step 3: Verify that you answered the right question.

When you obtain the final answer, restrain the impulse to pump it in immediately. Take a few moments to

  • Examine the question stem.
  • Check the measuring units.
  • Check your work twice.

The PSAT will frequently ask you for numbers like x + 1 or the product of x and y. Be cautious when answering these questions! They often give enticing response options that correlate to particular values of x or y. Because there is no half score on the PSAT, pause a second after each question to double-check that you’re answering the right question.

Consider the following sample illustration of the PSAT Math question to see these three steps in action:

Practice Question: 1/2 (3x + 17) = 1/6 (8x – 10)

Which of the following x values solves the given equation?

  1. A) -61
  2. B) -55
  3. C) -41
  4. D) -35

Use the steps outlined above, as well as the prescribed math scratchwork. Keep your annotations structured for PSAT performance.

Step 1: Read the question, identify and organize key information as you go.

It is a basic question: You must solve the equation and get the proper value of x.

1/6 = 1/2 (3x + 17) (8x -10)

Step 2: Determine the best technique for answering the question. 

Is it better to divide those fractions first, or is there a quicker way to accomplish this?

Multiplying both sides by 6; will simplify the problem significantly. Finally, use the distributive property to aggregate like terms and solve x.

6 [ 1/2 (3x + 17) = 1/6 (8x – 10) ]

3 (3x +17) = 8x – 10

9x + 51 = 8x – 10

x = -61

Step 3: Verify that you answered the right question.

You discovered the value of x, and it is correct (A)

x = -61.

You might have handled this question in various ways, but remember that the aim is to acquire the correct answer as soon as possible. The quicker you solve algebraic equations, the more time you’ll have to dedicate to difficult problems, allowing a higher PSAT Math score on Test Day.

Conclusion

Conversely, don’t believe that a high score on the PSAT Math questions assures a perfect score on the SAT or that it excuses you from preparing for the SAT. Assuming that your SAT success is certain may result in a lower-than-expected score on this crucial college admissions exam. So, start preparing and aim at performing your best. 


Book a free demo

Grade*

+91

By proceeding to create an account you are agreeing to our Terms of conditions and Privacy Policy