High school students know that when they reach their junior year they’ll have to take standardized tests designed to show prospective colleges what they’ve learned and how they’ve excelled academically as a means of determining admissions. Nearly all students take the SATs, while some also take the ACTs, depending on intended school and major.
Some students, however, end up skipping the PSATs because they don’t think it’s necessary. If you knew how important this test could be, you would never dream of passing it up. Not only can it help you to prepare for the SATs, but it is also used to determine National Merit Scholarship awards.
Students who take the PSATs and score high enough are eligible for National Merit Scholarships of $2,500 and may also qualify for college-sponsored Merit Scholarships or corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships. No matter how you look at it, there are good reasons to take the PSATs.
Of course, you’ll have to score in the top 1% to qualify. So here are just a few helpful tips and tricks to ensure an outstanding score on the PSATs.
- Start Early with Practice Tests
This cannot be stressed enough. Exam booklets, practice tests, and other prep materials are designed to help you study for the PSATs, but they only work if you give yourself time to study and practice.
Taking a single practice test will give you a benchmark for readiness, to be sure, but more importantly, the results can be used to guide you. When you know which sections of the test you struggled on and which showed poor performance, you know how to improve.
Giving yourself plenty of time for this process is essential to ensuring the best performance and outcome when you take the PSATs for real.
- Schedule Study Time
Students are understandably bogged down with schoolwork and other activities. As a result, you might not have time to study for the PSATs.
In truth, you need to set aside time. This means scheduling at least a couple of hours each week to devote to studying test materials and taking practice tests. Otherwise you can’t hope to be properly prepared.
- Pace Yourself
Whether you’re taking practice tests or it’s time for the real deal, any test requires good time management skills. You only have a set amount of time to complete the PSATs, so it’s important to budget your time accordingly.
Practice tests can help you to figure out how much time you should devote to each section and to individual questions.
- Never Leave Blanks
When you study, you pick up a lot of information without even knowing it sometimes. If you don’t fill in an answer because you think you don’t know, you’ll definitely get the question wrong.
By following your first instinct and filling in every blank, there’s a chance that you’ll get some questions right when you think you’re wrong. Even choosing a random answer is better than leaving a blank space when taking a test.
- Hire Help
If you want the best chance to earn admission and scholarships to Northeastern University, scoring high on the PSATs is a good place to start. Your best bet to make this happen could be to hire a professional tutor.
Organizations like The Princeton Review, for example, specialize in helping students prepare for entrance exams like the PSATs and SATs. There is some cost, but since a high score could nab you scholarships and admission to your school of choice, the cost may be well worthwhile.