Is the PSAT Hard?

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
The PSAT prepares college-minded high school sophomores and juniors for the SAT. Read on to learn about the difficulty level of the PSAT and how to prepare for it.

How Difficult is the PSAT?

The PSAT focuses on math, reading, writing and language concepts that high school sophomores and juniors typically have already studied in their academic courses, so the test should not be difficult for well-prepared high school students. The PSAT measures both students' proficiency in those subject areas, and their ability to practically apply that knowledge in the analysis and interpretation of information.

PSAT Overview

The PSAT is divided into three sections:

  • Writing and Language: Editing, critiquing and interpreting written works
  • Reading: Reading comprehension and interpretation
  • Math: Algebra, problem solving, geometry, trigonometry, complex equations, and data analysis

Preparation Techniques to Make Test Day Easier

Because the PSAT focuses on the understanding and application of knowledge, mastery of vocabulary and equations will only partially prepare a student for the test. Along with brushing up on basic skills, test-takers are advised to familiarize themselves with the structure of the test and the types of questions they will be asked. From there, students should utilize both PSAT-specific prep resources and review general test-taking practices. For example, since most PSAT questions are multiple choice, students may benefit from's Strategy for Multiple Choice Questions lesson.

Take Advantage of Practice Tests

For many college-bound high school sophomores and juniors, the PSAT is their first encounter with a lengthy and comprehensive formal standardized test. Therefore, PSAT prep should include several practice tests that are self-administered within the test's 165-minute structure. This will allow students to develop pacing and time management skills, along with the mental stamina needed to excel on test day.

Utilize Prep Courses

While the PSAT focuses on what students have learned in school, prep courses help them refresh the specific skills needed for the test, and understand how PSAT questions will challenge them to apply knowledge. Learn more about the section tests, test-taking strategies, and the types of questions to expect on the PSAT with this PSAT Prep Course. Features of this course include:

  • Lessons that average around 5 minutes, so you always have time for a quick one!
  • Short lesson quizzes that let you gauge your understanding of a topic.
  • Course exams that give you the chance to assess your overall knowledge.
  • Access at any time from anywhere on any mobile device.
  • The chance to ask expert instructors questions about any topic you need help with.
  • Monitoring your progress through the dashboard.

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