Your Guide to the New PSAT
Everyone’s talking about the New SAT! If you’ve been paying attention to the fascinating world of test prep, you know that in March 2016, the SAT launched an updated version of its infamous test (here’s my full, free guide to the New SAT).
What fewer people know is that the PSAT switched over to the new format before the SAT did!In October of 2015, the PSAT was already in the New SAT format, and it’s going to be that way from this point forward. If you’re planning on taking the PSAT this fall, or any time in the future, that means that you need to adjust your game plan accordingly. Fortunately, it’ll be much easier than you might think!
In this brief guide, I’ll show you exactly how to prepare for the New PSAT to get the best scores possible (and get a few extra bonuses along the way).
First Things First: What’s Changing?
The PSAT is basically just the Diet SAT. Want to study for the PSAT? Just study for the SAT and you’ll be all set! The PSAT is just a shorter version of the SAT without the essay, so there’s no difference in the way you need to study for the two tests. In fact, by studying for the SAT, you’ll be ensuring that you’d get an even higher score on your PSAT (sort of like training with 100 pound weights for a contest where you only need to lift 80 pounds). Even better? If you study for the SAT instead of the PSAT, you can just take the SAT as soon as your practice tests match your target scores, so you can kill two birds with one stone and get your entire testing process out of the way.
The New PSAT is going to be a slightly shorter version of the New SAT without the essay. Therefore, to understand what’s going to be on the New PSAT, you’ll need to get a good grasp on the New SAT.
Kill Two Birds With One Stone
The most boiled-down explanation of the New PSAT is this:
The New PSAT is basically the exact same thing as the SAT with fewer problems and no essay.
I don’t mean that they’re similar – I mean that they’re practically identical.
The material on the two tests is now going to be identical. The math, grammar, and reading concepts are identical, the format is the same, EVERYTHING is the same!
If you prepare for the New SAT, you’ll also be preparing for the New PSAT.
If you learn all the ins and outs of the SAT, you’ll be learning all of the math rules, grammar rules, reading approaches, strategies, and tactics required by the New PSAT as well.
Just read my guide to the New SAT and then start studying!
If you prep for the New SAT, you can get a high PSAT score, then turn around and knock out the New SAT as well. Better yet, because your scores are valid for five years, you can take the New SAT as soon as you’re ready – even if you haven’t taken the PSAT yet, you can still knock out the New SAT if your scores are high enough! The sooner you start prepping, the better you’ll do on both tests.
Your Exact Game Plan
If you’ve decided to start prepping for the PSAT as soon as possible (good idea), there’s a simple way to get the best scores possible:
- First, realize that only your Junior year PSAT scores counts toward National Merit scholarships. If you’re prepping for your Sophomore year PSAT, realize that it truly is a “practice SAT” in its purest form. Yes, you’ll get a score, but it won’t be reported anywhere, and it won’t help you to get a National Merit nod – it’s just practice, so you’re just getting an idea of what the test will be like and a mark in the sand to tell you where you stand.
- Start studying for the New SAT as soon as you possibly can. Learn all the ins and outs for all the sections – the strategies for reading, writing+language, and math will all help you to do well on the New SAT and the New PSAT. The sooner you take the New SAT the better – whether you take it before or after the New PSAT doesn’t matter at all.
- Register for a New SAT as soon as your practice test scores are high enough.You can find a full list of test dates and registration links here: https://greentestprep.com/resources/sat-prep/sat-act-dates-calendar/
- Be sure that you’re studying for the right test! Some students will do far better on the ACT than they will on the New SAT and vice versa – investing your time in the right test is essential. You can see my free guide on the New SAT vs. the ACT here. Because the New SAT is an intentional copy of the ACT, the ACT will help you to prepare for the PSAT as well.
- If you decide that the ACT is the better test for you, study for the ACT instead! Because the two tests are so similar, you can make VERY small adjustments to your ACT routine and get ready for the New PSAT in the two weeks leading up to your test. My online prep programs include courses for BOTH the ACT and the New SAT, so all you’ll need to do is check out the New SAT program a few weeks in advance of the PSAT to make the switch
- If you want to see what the New SAT will look like, or have the resource at your disposal for when you make the switch from the ACT to the PSAT, you can find six full-length practice tests, along with (horrific, but somewhat suitable) answer explanations here: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/practice/full-length-practice-tests
- You can also get these tests printed out and pay money for them in the College Board’s new official SAT study guide. As you can see from the stellar reviews, it’s not the best – but if you don’t feel like destroying your printer, it might be worth the money?
- If you study for the New SAT, you’ll need ZERO adjustment to take the PSAT. It’ll just seem like a really easy New SAT. If you study for the ACT, take a few practice New SATs on your own time and get familiar with the spacing, timing, formatting, etc. You’ll notice that it’s practically identical to the ACT except in terms of formatting (a few math problems have “fill in the blank” answers, the math sections are split up, there are a different number of overall questions, etc., but for the most part, they’re the same test).
- No matter what you do, start studying as soon as possible! The sooner you begin, the easier the entire process will be, the higher you’ll score, and the fewer minutes per day you’ll have to invest in studying. There’s no reason not to start as quickly as possible. In fact, you should take a look at my guide on when to start prepping and why.
NOW is the perfect time to prep for the New PSAT. If you spend just 25-30 minutes a day building your foundation, learning the key strategies, memorizing the material, and enhancing your experience, you’re going to do much better on the big day. Take advantage of the fact that you’re reading this now, and not tomorrow!
I hope you’ll get started studying as soon as possible! The sooner you do, the better you’ll do on your PSAT, your New SAT / ACT, and the sooner you’ll have the entire test prep process behind you. If you study on your own, I wish you the best of luck, and if you’re looking for some guidance, you can learn more about my record-breaking test prep programs here..
Have a great day, and good luck with your prep!