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PSAT Strategies for a Better Score

Apr 4, 2023
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If you want to achieve a better PSAT score, you must be aware of the overall structure of the PSAT paper as well as that of the three papers it entails— Math, Reading, Writing and Language. This blog will help you with some psat strategies that you can apply to any of these tests and increase your overall PSAT score. 

PSAT Strategies for a Better Score

The tests you are used to taking at school differ from the PSAT. Therefore, you need to look for new ways to tackle it. The good thing is that if you are aware of the structure of the PSAT paper, you can use it to your advantage. For example, on a school test, you probably write the answers to questions serial-wise. You devoted more time to difficult questions and less time to easier questions. This is because the more difficult questions are usually worth more marks. 

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These approaches, however, are not helpful for the PSAT. Here, you might benefit from passing on a harder question and saving your time to spend on the easier ones. This is because, on the PSAT, the difficult questions are worth the same as those easier ones. How you arrive at the correct answer does not matter. The only thing that matters is that you bubble in the correct answer. 

Triage the test efficiently: 

On the PSAT, you do not need to go through the questions in order. You can tackle the test with your own strengths in mind. Your main goal must be to attain as many marks as possible. While it may seem counterintuitive to approach questions without following a pattern, it is a good way to attain a better score.

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However, it would help if you remembered that even though you can skip around within a section, you cannot solve answers from a section other than the one you have been assigned to work on. Follow the following tips to triage the test effectively:

  • First, read the whole question paper thoroughly. Then, complete the easy questions you think you can get over quickly. Skip the questions that you think are time-consuming or difficult to solve. When solving the Reading, Writing, and Language tests, start with working on the passage you find the easiest and then work with the hardest one. You need not follow a certain order. 
  • In the second phase, solve the questions that are time-consuming yet doable. 
  • At last, tackle the hardest questions.
  • If you are short on time, solve the remaining questions by picking a Letter of the Day. 

Elimination Strategy for Multiple-choice Questions:

 Even though there are no mark deductions for wrong answers on the PSAT, elimination is still a very important strategy. If you are sure that one or more options are incorrect, your chances of getting the right answer increase by paring the selection down. 

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Follow the tips given below to eliminate the answer choices:

  • Pay attention to every answer choice and cross out the ones you are sure are incorrect. 
  • Take your best guess; there are no mark deductions for wrong answers. 

Increase your Guessing Skills:

There are four answer questions for each question on the PSAT. There is no mark deduction for wrong answer choices. This means that even if you have no idea about what the potential answer to a question might be, you still have a 25% chance of randomly choosing the right answer.

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Even though guessing is associated with a 75% chance of selecting a wrong answer, you won’t be losing any marks for doing so, so it won’t hurt! The worst-case scenario is that you won’t earn any points on that particular question, meaning that you should at least attempt the question even if you don’t have any idea about what to do.

Follow the following tips when you are guessing a question:

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  • Read the answer choices very carefully before guessing and try to eliminate the wrong choices
  • If you are short on time, pick a letter of the day. 

How to Study for the PSAT Exam?

Studying is an important part of any exam, including the PSAT. Following are a few tips to help you study for the PSAT exam effectively so that you can achieve a better score: 

  • Commit to giving enough time to the PSAT but don’t overstress yourself:
  • Time is an important resource that, if used correctly, can do wonders. You must spend your time wisely and devote a good chunk of it to preparing for the PSAT. However, it would be best if you did not skip doing your homework as grades hugely impact your college admissions prospects. In that sense, they are far more important than the PSAT. 
  • The PSAT won’t determine the fate of your career. Its main aim is to help you realize where you stand as you start considering the SAT. No matter how good or bad your SAT scores are, you can impress colleges with those. 
  • The one thing, however, for which your PSAT scores matter is the National Merit Scholarship. If you are someone for whom this matters, then you will need to put in more effort to reach the cutoff score of your state. Nevertheless, it would be best if you did not concentrate on your PSAT preparation so much that it renders you lacking in other areas. 

Pay Attention to your Own Needs

Make sure to take care of yourself while you are preparing for the test. Health is beyond important, and it should not be compromised. Make sure that you get adequate sleep every night and eat healthy meals. Also, do not do all-nighters before the exam. Decrease your stress and fatigue, and don’t resort to pessimism. Approach the exam with a positive attitude and think of it as an opportunity to shine. 

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Take Practice Tests

Taking practice tests before the exam is very important. They not only acquaint you with the exam pattern but also help you understand your progress in preparation. You can get to know about your weak and strong areas of the syllabus so that you can work more on the weak ones. Solving practice tests also teaches you time management skills, which are very important for any exam. 

Practice Real PSAT Questions 

The best approach to practicing is to start with official PSAT questions. This will help you understand where your potential difficulties lie. Both quantity and quality matter. Your goal should be not only to practice as many questions as possible but also to solve the right type of questions. After you are done, try dissecting the questions you got wrong and find out where your mistakes lie. 

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Read a Lot

Even if you are short on time, make most of the time you have in your hands. Do a lot of reading so that you are confident in solving the Reading, Writing and Language sections of the paper. Getting comfortable answering questions related to different passages is extremely important to performing well on the PSAT. 

Strengthen your Basic Grammar Skills

You might be very familiar with the basic grammar skills needed to perform well in the writing and language section. You can’t make silly mistakes on the exam. There may be common errors that might sound perfectly correct to your ears, beware of those! The good thing is that relatively fewer concepts are tested in this section. So, even studying for a few hours is enough is improve your score

Conclusion

We hope that this blog helped you gain some understanding of the SAT paper pattern and what skills you are expected to have to score high on the test. We have also included some psat strategies you can use to pass the test with flying colors. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it better to mark the answer after guessing or leave it black on the PSAT?

Yes, it is. As there are no mark deductions for wrong answers on the PSAT, it is better not to leave any questions blank. Just give it your best guess and hope for the best.

2. How many hours a day do I need to study for the SAT?

To achieve a high score on the SAT, you must study at least ten hours a week for two months. If you plan on going slower, you can study for a few hours a week for six to seven months. Also, whether you distribute the hours over the seven days of the week or over two days, the choice is yours.

3. Is 75th percentile a good PSAT score to target?

A score higher than 75th percentile in PSAT indicates that the student outperformed 75% of the students who took the test with them. Therefore, it is an excellent score to target.

4. What SAT score should I target for Ivy League?

To get admitted to one of the Ivy League schools, your SAT score needs to be in the 99th percentile, which means that you should stand in the top 1%.

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