PSAT’s: How to survive

BY JANICE CHAVEZ

 

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PSAT test day is October 11 and Tech & Media magnet sophomore, Guadalupe Bravo, is confident she’ll perform well.  “[Taking the PSAT my freshman year] was a good investment, because this year I feel more prepared, since I already have an idea of what it’s like,” Bravo said.

For starters, why is the PSAT important? A good PSAT score could qualify students for the National Merit Scholarship program.  Universities reserve or guarantee additional financial aid for National Merit scholars.  Essentially, a free ride to a university of choice is guaranteed in being part of this program.  A student must score in the top 1% of the PSAT to be eligible as a semifinalist.  However, only finalists are eligible for National Merit Scholarship awards.  “In our English class [last year], we learned about how scoring high on the PSAT is important; it opens the door to many scholarship opportunities,” Bravo said.

The PSAT is a preliminary standardized test for the SAT that students take their junior or senior year.  The PSAT measures understanding in writing and math.  

According to Study Point, the PSAT has an entire duration of two hours and 25 minutes and is divided into four sections: reading, writing, no calculator math, and a math portion with a calculator.  The reading portion is an hour long for 47 questions, and the writing portion is 35 minutes for 44 questions.  The no calculator math portion is 25 minutes for 17 questions, and the calculator portion is 45 minutes for 31 questions.  

“To get the best score, I definitely recommend getting a guide or maybe you can find something online to help you prepare for it.  The PSAT is important because a higher score means a higher chance of getting a scholarship,” Bravo said.

Test day can be nerve wracking, knowing how the day will be carried can help.  Most likely PSAT day will be on a Wednesday, advisory day.  Homeroom will be three hours long, and test takers will be summoned to another classroom where the test is to be taken within the three hours.  A teacher will instruct test takers and explain the rules.  Each section will be timed from then on.  “So it’s just like any other day except instead of going to homeroom like usual, that Wednesday we [PSAT test takers] were summoned to go to a different classroom,” Bravo said.

She took her PSAT freshman year to become familiar with the material and the pace she should be working at.  Now a sophomore, Bravo feels more prepared than most of her peers.  At a recent assembly during advisory on Wednesday, September 20, sophomores were given PSAT prep booklets along with a list of accepted calculators for its math portion.

 Test takers are advised to study until the test day, October 11.  Prep booklets are offered at the college center.  “I think [the prep booklets] helped my score because I reviewed some of the things I had already forgotten about,” Bravo said.
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