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About the PSAT

The PSAT is a 2hr 45min long exam taken by high school juniors. It is offered in mid-October, either on a Wednesday or a Saturday. Registration and administration of the test is run by your school. Your test results are typically available in December and you will be able to review every question in detail online. So, if you are committed to taking the SAT, then you should definitely take the PSAT. Although the current format is the traditional paper-and-pencil format, the PSAT will undergo its most drastic change in 2023 and switch to a computer-only format, as will the SAT in 2024.

So, what’s the point of taking the PSAT if it’s really the SAT scores that schools look at? The PSAT simply serves as practice for the SAT: the scores you get are for your eyes only and will NOT affect your college admissions. However, if you score in the top 1%, you may qualify to participate in the National Merit Scholarship program. This could lead to recognition by many colleges as well as potential scholarship money.

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The test is divided into two scored sections: Evidence Based Reading and Writing (which I like to just call English for short) and Math. The English is scored from 160-760. The Reading and Writing sections contribute equally to the overall English score. Math is also scored from 160-760, giving a maximum possible score of 1520.

Unlike older editions of the PSAT, there is no penalty for incorrect guesses. Since the multiple choice is all 4-choice, NEVER leave any question blank. At worst, you have a 25% chance of getting it correct!

Section Breakdown

The current PSAT format is still in effect for students graduating in 2024 and consists of the following four sections:
This is a 60 minute section with 47 questions. The format is four-choice multiple choice. There are a total of 5 passages with 8-10 questions per passage. The passage genres include a literary narrative, two science passages, one social science passage, and one history passage.
This is a 35 minute section with 44 questions. The format is four-choice multiple choice. There are a total of 4 passages, 11 questions per passage. The test taker becomes the "editor" of each passage to improve the grammar and expression of ideas. This section is identical in all aspects (timing and number of questions) to the SAT.
Math - No calculator
This is a 25 minute section with 17 questions. No calculator is allowed in this section. The format is 13 four-choice multiple choice questions, followed by 4 student-response questions. Content is heavy on algebra, along with some pre-algebra concepts (percents, ratios, proportions), problem solving and data analysis, and some more advanced algebra 2 topics (complex numbers, trigonometry, quadratic, polynomial, and exponential functions).
Math - With calculator
This is a 45 minute section with 31 questions. Calculators are allowed in this section. The format is 27 four-choice multiple choice questions, followed by 4 student-response questions. Content is the same as the previous, but the questions tend to be longer with more information to process.
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PSAT Resources

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The Cornerstone Approach

The videos below are just a small sample of the many strategies that can be used to attack even the hardest PSAT questions. And these strategies are extremely effective! But strategies can only get you so far. That’s why I balance the lessons with just the right blend of strategies, test-taking techniques, and content. The lessons are always fine-tuned to address YOUR specific needs - no one else’s! At the outset of the program, I’ll already have done a thorough analysis of your previous in-home practice PSAT, or an intake diagnostic PSAT at our tutoring center. Based on that analysis, I’ll know what specific areas we need to focus on so that we can maximize your score and not waste time reviewing stuff you already know!

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