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For many high school students, the PSAT is their first big standardized test. The PSAT is often considered a practice test, but it is technically a preliminary test for the SAT.

 If Guidance gave you the PSAT practice test #2 – use it to prepare. The test is also available on the College Board website.

Here’s why you should study and take the PSAT seriously:

1.   If a student is familiar with the format, directions and questions on the PSAT, then his or her error patterns will be authentic and future test prep will be more productive. Familiarity alone can boost a student’s score by reducing time-wasting struggles on test day.

2.   Students will receive their test back in mid-December. Guidance Counselors will be using students’ PSAT scores to generate college lists. Students who study and have authentic scores will be able to build a more realistic college list.

3.   Why the PSAT Practice Test #2? It is the most recent practice written by The College Board. With the introduction of the new SAT last year, there are very few exams written by the authentic College Board writers for the PSAT. This Practice Test is the most recent practice exam out there. Taking a Sylvan, Kaplan or Catalyst Test is not the same as taking an authentic test.

How can you prepare?

·      Again, take a practice test and use your errors to identify one or two of your weakest areas, and then focus your efforts there.

·      Understand the format of the test. It is about getting the most right answers. All questions are worth one point, no matter how hard or easy. Don’t waste time on one or two hard questions; you can always go back.

·      Use the lack of guessing penalty to your advantage. You shouldn’t leave a question blank.

READING: On the PSAT, there will be one fiction, social science, history and science passage.

Here are several thematic patterns worth noting on the SAT practice reading passages over the past year:

1. HISTORY PASSAGE: On the reading section, the history passage will always be about individual rights and focus on either the founding fathers, the American Revolution, slavery, the Civil War, women’s rights and, lately, transcendentalism (Thoreau — government versus individual rights). Understand that individual rights meant rights for ALL people. Every passage will relate back to this big idea.

Everything you need to know will be in the passage, but sometimes these passages are difficult to read so if you understand the “big idea” in the passage — you don’t need to understand everything about the passage to answer the questions correctly.

2. SOCIAL SCIENCES: The Social Sciences passages often have one passage about Organic Farming/Food Miles/Social/Global Environmental Responsibility and another about the Internet/Technology — how it affects the brain or privacy issues.

These are all hot-button topics that colleges embrace as part of their foundation curriculum. Every college wants their students to be thought leaders and global citizens.

Finally, the LITERATURE passage will be from the Common Core syllabus of novels since David Coleman, the head of the College Board, was the architect of the Common Core.

Good Luck Juniors!

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