As you enjoy the final weeks of summer, you – like many students – may begin to turn your attention to the 2015-2016 school year. Maybe you are anticipating seeing all of your classmates again, or maybe you are looking forward to your first-semester electives. If you are a high school sophomore or junior, the PSAT may also be on your mind. You may ask yourself, “How important is this precursor to the SAT? Should I study? If the answer to that question is ‘Yes,’ how should I study?” If this concern has crossed your mind, never fear. Here are three PSAT prep tips you need to know:
1. Choose accurate materials
Like the SAT, the PSAT will debut a new test this school year. Sophomores and juniors who plan to take the PSAT in October 2015 should take care to ensure that their study materials reflect the 2015 exam – not an earlier version. The revised PSAT features new content and skills in each of its sections, and it is 35 minutes longer than its predecessor. Reviewing with guides and practice tests that are outdated can leave you confused (and perhaps even panicked) come test day, and it can undermine the PSAT’s most important purpose – readying you for SAT success. To avoid this outcome, ask your guidance counselor or a teacher which resources he or she recommends, and browse any potential resources before you begin to use them.
2. Set aside ample time
Occasionally, high school students assume that the PSAT is nothing more than an SAT practice test. And if the PSAT is just a practice test, there is no need to study for it – right? This is, simply put, wrong. Your PSAT score can qualify you for the National Merit Scholarship Program. At some schools, it may even be used as one of several factors when determining whether you are eligible for AP classes. In other words, how you do on the PSAT matters. If you hope to earn a scholarship or to otherwise distinguish yourself on the PSAT, aim to begin your prep several months in advance. In 2015, the PSAT will be offered on October 14 and 28 – this means that the back-to-school season is the perfect time to start reviewing for the exam.
3. Balance studying with self care
High school can be stressful. You may have half a dozen courses to attend to, as well as extracurriculars like debate, intramural or varsity athletics, student government, and theatre to participate in. With the addition of PSAT prep to your schedule, you might wonder when you will find time to eat, sleep, and socialize with your family and friends. This is one reason why studying for the PSAT well in advance of your test date is important. Even 15 minutes of daily review can improve your performance on the exam, and it also allows you to balance your academic and prep commitments with the exercise, free time, and rest that your brain and body need to remain healthy.
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