Everything You Need to Know About the PSAT

A funny PSAT test takerHopefully you’ve never heard of the PSAT. Hopefully, you’ve lived your life without worrying about things like your grades, your college applications, and the gradual extinction of real music. (I’m not saying things like dubstep are bad. No, if you like listening to the sounds of a car malfunctioning while its going over a bumpy road, dubstep is fine. I’m just saying stuff like that isn’t music).

Statistically, though, you’ve spent some time thinking about those things. Since you’re a teen, that thought process probably went like this: “The PSAT…I should probably study for that…tomorrow…after next week…in a few years…before I get married. Right. Now, let’s go see who just poked who on Facebook!”

Well, I’ve got some bad news: the PSAT is next week. On the bright side, however, that means you can get married before November, if that’s the deadline you set for your studying.

As you’ve learned from reading High School Humor Blog, we truly have your best interests at heart. Or, at least your happiness. We really only exist to make you laugh. And to slowly take over the mind of every teen on the planet so we can stage a mass uprising against rising gum prices. Thus, we’ve broken the PSAT down for your understanding.

The Reading Section

One of the harder sections of the PSAT is the reading section. The first part of the reading section involves sentence completions. You’ll be given a sentence and asked to fill in the blank(s), such as:

Because he ran into a low-lying tree branch and fell down, Bob’s nose was ——– and he had —— all over his body.

Now, any two words could fit this sentence. Brad’s nose could have been bleeding, and he might have had temporary tattoos all over his body. His nose might have been broken, and his body could have been covered in pre-emptive band-aids. Thankfully, to narrow things down a bid, the PSAT creators give you a few choices. For our example, the choices might include:

(A) bewitched…tree sap
(B) atomized…abrasions
(C) exploded…bird poop
(D) hurt…gourmet sushi
(E) angry…skin

One strategy is to re-read the sentence while substituting in each choice. If you did that with our example, you can clearly see that the answer was (B), the obvious answer.

Sadly, as you reach the harder questions and have no idea what the words mean, all the answer choices will appear equally appealing. So, I suggest you pick answers based on either the “always guess ‘C’” rule or based on which word is worth more in a game of Scrabble.

The reading section also has passage-based questions. There, you read a passage and answer a question which may or may not have to do with the passage. A question like, “When the author used the word ‘Belieber’ in line 57, they most likely meant:” can often be answered just by reading line 57.

The Math Section

Generally easier than the reading section, another hard section of the PSAT is the math section. The nice thing about this section is that some math problems include pictures, which you should pause at to fully enjoy the artistic meaning.

Math questions are simply that: math. If you can do math, you’ll be fine, but since 7 out of every 4 teens can’t do math at all, you are probably not going to be fine.

Strategically speaking, stay positive. I don’t mean positive/negative numbers; I mean positive. If you are happy, you are less likely to have a mental breakdown about your performance, and mental breakdowns take up some of your valuable time.

It is, after all, a timed test, to mimic real-life situations. Oh, you didn’t think you’d ever have to find (as fast as possible) what the probability is that the representative will be a girl who speaks eight languages, plays four sports, is equal to x+3, and is perpendicular to line l is, in real life? Time to wake up to reality.

The Writing Section

The writing section is yet another hard section of the PSAT. The only easy section is the bubbling section, and even that isn’t all that easy.

In the writing section, you will be asked to correct sentences in various ways. Unless you’ve spent your entire life reading real literature, and not Facebook wall posts with more grammatical errors per line than the number of hours of sleep you usually get, there’s not much last minute studying that you can do.

You can, however, try reading each sentence aloud to see what sounds best. Of course, since it’s a standardized, closely monitored test, making any sort of noise is a class two felony in all US states and territories, so you’re going to want to read it aloud silently. And if that’s not enough of a paradox, you’re going to want to read it aloud silently without moving your lips, because you can’t have food, or any indication of food, either; that’s a class one felony.

Sure, the PSAT has a number of difficult sections. Thankfully, it won’t kill you unless you are allergic to NMSQTs, in which case you’ll at least break out in hives. But I’m not even going to start on those; I’ve got to go study my guessing strategy.

But suppose you actually tried to study for the vocab portion of the PSAT. In that case, you might come to the conclusion that it’s impossible; there are too many words. Perhaps you might want to read “The English Language has Too Many Words–But I’ve Got Solutions,” published this time last year.

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  1. Ashley Niekamp says:

    Your opinion on the math section and how almost all teens are horrible at math is so true!

  2. Flower Power says:

    This post would really get your mind OFF of taking or studying for the PSAT. I can honestly say I felt stupid after taking this test. You are correct about every section being hard!

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