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PSAT summer prep


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I plan on having my twin sons, rising juniors,  take the PSAT this fall mostly as practice for the SAT's. They have done very few standardized tests and my goal is for them to feel as comfortable as possible. Any suggestions for how to prep this summer? Is one study guide better than another? How much time per day for study? Khan academy? Any suggestions from those who have gone before would be so helpful for us. Thank you so much!

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Yes, they need to take the PSAT/NMSQT in October of their Junior year.  NOTE: If they qualify (per the College Board) as "Hispanic" this test is extremely important because it is also used for the National Hispanic Recognition Program.  That's not a Scholarship, but an Academic honor that will look nice on my DDs university applications.  Yes, she used Khan Academy, which is free, to prepare for the PSAT/NMSQT and also for the SAT. 

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All of the SAT Prep materials will work for the PSAT.  My rising Freshman is starting with the PSAT study materials -- and really just getting his feet wet.  We won't start really prepping for the PSAT/SAT until his sophomore year.

My rising junior has taken the PSAT 9/10 (in 9th grade) and the PSAT in 10th. She is on a serious prep schedule this summer, but we started prepping her sophomore year with 15 minutes/day of math review on Khan Academy, and I used the Blue Books (Big Book of SAT Grammar and SAT Critical Reading) as part of her English course.  She will take her first practice SAT this Sunday, and continue taking about one SAT exam every 4-6 weeks until she takes the SAT on 1 December (the first day she can take it).  She'll take her PSAT on 10 October.

Her summer study schedule is a mixture of daily review and practice of concepts, calculator practice (she hasn't used a calculator much -- so becoming proficient with the keys, and not hitting the wrong ones -- is important), and review of test taking strategies, taking full-length SAT exams (which are longer/harder than the PSAT), and then focusing on problem areas is our main strategy.  Most days it won't be more than about 30 minutes.  Test days and a day or two afterwards may have more test-focus working to understand what she did wrong and how to correct it, but will quickly go back to that 15-30 minutes a day.  Shorter, more frequent review sessions tend to work much better for her.

Your boys are the same age as my daughter, and since they don't have a lot of experience, I would strongly suggest you print out a full-length test from the College Board website and give it to them COLD -- set aside one day, and just have them take the test in as close to testing conditions as you can.  Grade it, use the materials to determine areas of weakness (they provide you with the topic areas -- types of problems), so you can tailor review/learning to those weak spots.  Spend 4-6 weeks on that plan, and re-test with a different exam.  Rinse and Repeat. 

Use the materials that work best for your child (my daughter uses a combination of online and actual texts, as I mentioned above).  Prep has definitely helped with my daughter's level of anxiety on the high pressure tests. 

All of this said -- here's what I'd like to pass on: 

For a very small number of students, the PSAT could mean huge scholarships.  For the vast majority of students it is simply practice, and for a large percentage, it may not even be a necessary exam.  Why?  Some students perform better on the ACT than the SAT. How would you know?  Have them take one full practice exam of each, and see (a) which they prefer and (b) how their scores compare (there are sites that you can plug in scores and determine if your child performs better on one exam or another).  If your child does better on the ACT, and is not scoring high enough on the SAT that the National Merit Scholarship is a real possibility -- don't waste your time prepping for that exam.  The ACT and SAT are very different tests (even still). My daughter technically does better on the ACT than the SAT (at least when she took them both cold).  But, her PSAT scores her sophomore year are high enough that she would be in contention for National Merit, which is why she is focusing on the SAT vs. the ACT.  There is excellent scholarship money for both the SAT and ACT (assuming that's the goal).  Most schools will accept either.  This is why I say -- start prepping for the test your child does best with.

There is nothing mystical about the preparation process -- and a little every day goes a long, long way.  All the best to you and your boys!

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My rising junior has taken the PSAT 9/10 (in 9th grade) and the PSAT in 10th. She is on a serious prep schedule this summer, but we started prepping her sophomore year with 15 minutes/day of math review on Khan Academy, and I used the Blue Books (Big Book of SAT Grammar and SAT Critical Reading) as part of her English course.  She will take her first practice SAT this Sunday, and continue taking about one SAT exam every 4-6 weeks until she takes the SAT on 1 December (the first day she can take it).  She'll take her PSAT on 10 October.

 

  My kid took his first SAT on June 2nd. We started prepping about 3 months out.  Got several cheao  past, but recent editions of Barron & Princeton review.   I would rip out a test, and give him one of the four sections to do each day with timer.  He divided the longer sections over two days, with appropriate time adjustment  So roughly 30-35 minutes per day. We did 10 full tests this way.  A few weeks before the test, he started taking a full test each weekend.  It was interesting to watch the progress.  Math started out with 22 average math errors.  The final few practices where down to 6 average.  (in our case, I did not score verbal because he is trying to qualify for CTY  SET on math only)  Testing slowly and frequently is very helpful.  Reviewing the error pattern on the first few test showed that he was extremely week on function. Stopped test prep and had him redo function parts of alg 2. Big drop in errors when we resumed test practices.  good luck.

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