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How to Study for the PSAT

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
The PSAT is a precursor to the SAT for 10th and 11th graders. Although this test isn't as significant as the SAT, doing well may open up some opportunities. Read on to learn about studying for this exam and other crucial information.

How Should You Study for the PSAT?

According to the College Board, which administers the PSAT, the best way to prepare is to take challenging coursework and put in the time to learn the material. In addition to coursework, you should study and understand the specific content and structure of the PSAT. Practicing with full-length tests can also help you learn how to manage your time properly on test day.

Resources to Help You Prepare for the Test

There are many resources available online to help you study for the PSAT. The College Board offers free and paid resources, including a sample exam and answer sheet, which can be downloaded from their website (collegeboard.org).

Study.com, meanwhile, offers a comprehensive PSAT Practice and Study Guide course, which includes tutoring and video lectures. In addition to lessons and practice questions that are available 24/7, you'll have access to our instructors, if you have any questions. Your Study.com membership also gives you access to our study guide and prep resources for the SAT exam, when you're ready for that test.

Overview of Key PSAT Content

The PSAT is a 2 hour and 45 minute exam that has a total of 139 questions. These questions are dispersed within three content sections: math, reading, and writing and language. See the guide below for brief descriptions of each section and learn more about each section in these Study.com PSAT prep course chapters:

PSAT SectionContent DescriptionPrep Resource
Reading The reading section requires you to read passages and informational graphics, analyze them, then answer multiple choice questions. PSAT Reading: About the Reading Section
Writing and LanguageThe writing section measures your understanding of proper grammar and the English language through multiple-choice questions that require you to edit and improve written passages. PSAT Writing: About the Writing Section
MathThe math section comprises multiple choice and grid-in questions covering algebra, problem solving and data analysis. You are allowed to use a calculator on some questions. PSAT Math: About the Math Section

Additional Information

There are two versions of this exam. The PSAT 10 is only given to 10th graders while the PSAT/NMSQT is given to both 10th and 11th graders. The PSAT/NMSQT is used by the National Merit Scholarship program to determine student eligibility for scholarships.

All PSAT versions are administered at schools and a $15 fee may apply. If you have a disability, you may apply with the test administrators to have special accommodations for testing.

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