calculator resized 600Sometimes, high school feels like a whole other world with all its activities, emotions, and requirements. Part of the reason is because you are approaching adulthood, and your life’s going to be changing. High school’s trying to prepare you for that.

And in terms of college preparation, high schools often suggest their students take the PSAT starting their sophomore years. If you’re not sure what the PSAT is, keep reading this post and you’ll find out not only what the test is but why it’s important for succeeding in school!

What is the PSAT?

Co-sponsored by the College Board and the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) is a standardized test which is basically preparation for taking the SAT/ACT (yes, it’s a test to help you take another test). Based off of your previous knowledge from your classes, it helps measure your reasoning abilities by testing you in reading, math, and writing (and you won’t need to memorize anything – it will give you any math formulas you need, for example). Most students take it at the end of their sophomore years or sometime in their junior years.

Why should I take the PSAT?

In addition to being great practice for taking the timed SAT/ACT, the PSAT will give you feedback on what areas you may need to work on before you take the SAT/ACT. You’ll also be able to get information from colleges and college planning help by opting into several free programs through the PSAT. Finally, if you’re a junior, you can qualify for scholarships to help fund your college career.

How is the PSAT structured?

The test consists of 5 parts and takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete. Each part is timed:

  • 2 25-minute reading sections
  • 2 25-minute math sections
  • 1 30-minute writing section

The test has multiple choice, problem-solving, critical thinking, and writing skills questions.

How should I prepare for the PSAT?

Fortunately, the PSAT doesn’t need as serious preparation as the SAT/ACT (why should it, when it’s a prep for those tests, anyway?). In addition to knowing when the test is (some schools administer it on Tuesdays versus Saturdays), you can also learn specific strategies for tackling the format and the subject matter on the PSAT.

The PSAT may not have as much weight of the SAT/ACT, but it’s still important for ensuring you do well on those tests and in your future college career. And after reading this guide, you’re now more prepared to do your absolute best on the PSAT!