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The PSAT: How Much Does it Help?

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The Preliminary SAT, commonly referred to as the PSAT, is a standardized test that provides firsthand experience and practice for the SAT. It is also an excellent opportunity to enter National Merit Scholarship qualifying programs. The PSAT is most commonly written by sophomores and juniors in high school, and it shares a similar format to the real SAT, but it does have some important differences. In this post, some of the benefits of taking the PSAT will be explored in detail.

What are the Benefits

The PSAT is an excellent way to practice for the SAT. Since the PSAT results are not used by colleges to determine admissions, it is an excellent opportunity to complete a risk free standardized test that is very similar in form to the SAT. It is written in a similar environment to the SAT, but it is done in high schools rather than testing centers. This format allows students to build up confidence by writing their PSAT in a familiar environment, without the stress of college admissions riding on the result of the test, and practice their test writing skills. Many students who take the SAT for the first time without having taken the PSAT or a similar standardized test are overwhelmed by the strange, stressful environment and have difficulty performing at their best, and part of the purpose of the PSAT is to help students who struggle with test anxiety.

A second benefit to the PSAT is that it presents questions in a very similar form to the SAT, and tests the same general areas of competency that the SAT tests. The PSAT measures critical reading skills, mathematical problem-solving skills, and writing skills, which are the same areas that the SAT measures. However, there are a few key differences between the two tests. The PSAT does not contain a compulsory essay as part of its writing section, which is in quite unfortunate, as many students who write the SAT find that the essay is the most stressful and difficult part. The PSAT is also considerably shorter than the SAT, as it has a total test time of two hours and ten minutes, while the SAT has a significantly longer running time of three hours and forty-five minutes. However, while the PSAT is significantly shorter, it does have a very similar question format to the full SAT. It has multiple choice sentence completion questions, mathematical problem solving questions, and reading comprehension passages, all of which are part of the SAT. This allows students to build up familiarity with the types of problems seen on the full SAT.

A final benefit of the PSAT is that it provides a measurement of how well a student is performing in each of the three areas tested. This means that the results of the PSAT can be used to focus future academic efforts on the areas that need improvement, in order to boost the student’s competency in the areas with the greatest need.

In conclusion, the PSAT is an effective way to practice for the testing environment and academic material presented on the SAT, and is a great way to find which academic areas need the most improvement before a student takes the SAT.

Looking to do the PSAT? We can help with PSAT Prep

This article was written for you by Tobias, one of the tutors with Test Prep Academy.

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