What You Need to Know About THIS Year's PSAT

Many sophomores and juniors will take the PSAT's this month. This test offers a practice opportunity for the SAT's, and this year it is our first look at the revised questions and format. Here are the key differences students should know before they take the PSAT:
  • There is no penalty for wrong answers! Test takers earn points for their correct answers and so they should answer every question. 
  • The new test is longer- by 35 minutes. The test will take 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  • There are no more obscure lists of vocabulary words to memorize. Testers will be asked to figure out a word's meaning based on content.
  • The math section will include geometry and trigonometry. It will also include scenarios to solve problems mathematically that involve science and real-life situations.
  • Students will be asked to read and respond to a passage from US Founding Documents or conversations that have resulted from these documents.
  • There is no essay on the PSAT.
  • The scoring will be all new too, and will likely be more confusing to students and parents. The range will be between 320-1520. While the new SAT, available in March 2016, will go back to the 1600 scale, the PSAT scores don't go as high because the SAT is more difficult. I suspect there will be many questions about how to correlate PSAT scores to predict SAT scores. Stay tuned!
To prepare for the PSAT, students should check out these sample questions:
Reading
Writing and Language
Math

Students may also pick up a free practice booklet from their school guidance counseling office.

While the PSAT is truly a practice for sophomores, juniors may qualify for scholarships based on their scores. Be aware that students are asked for an email address when they fill out the registration information. I recommend setting up a free email account that is just dedicated to "college stuff" as their inbox will get flooded with emails from all things related to higher education. A dedicated mail address helps parents and students sift through numerous communications.