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Here Comes the PSAT!


The PSAT is a version of the SAT given to millions of juniors each year. Unlike with the SAT, colleges don’t generally consider PSAT scores as part of the admissions process. That said, many students find it helpful to be familiar with the format and basic content of the test before they take it during their junior year. In our experience, students who take the PSAT seriously often feel more confident when they take their first SAT. 

Read on for answers to common questions about the PSAT and PSAT preparation!

When is the PSAT?

Most juniors will take the PSAT at their school in mid-October.

Why prepare for the PSAT?

The PSAT affords students an opportunity to learn key test-taking content and strategy. Preparing for the PSAT turns the test into a confidence-building experience that lays the groundwork for the bulk of the SAT preparation. Our students approach the PSAT with a game plan that they implement under conditions that simulate the actual SAT. 

How should students prepare for the PSAT?

At AJ Tutoring, we believe that students should see the PSAT for what it is: a serious practice for the SAT. With this goal in mind, a common approach is to meet with students for ten 90-minute sessions to prepare. This comprehensive course covers critical test-taking skills and strategies for the verbal and math sections. It also includes a full content review, three or four full-length practice tests, and customized feedback. PSAT students who do a full course ahead of their October exam typically go on to do three or four sessions ahead of the March SAT.

What about the new digital format?

The fall 2023 PSAT will be in the new digital test format―a taste of the new digital SAT that will roll out starting in March 2024 (the fall 2023 SAT test dates will all still use the current paper-based format). So, besides being completed on a device instead of on paper, what’s different about the new test format?

  • Shorter: The new PSAT will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete, vs. more like 3.5 hours for the old paper PSAT. 
  • Adaptive: Each section will include 2 “modules”, and the difficulty of the second module will depend on the student’s performance on the first module.
  • Other tweaks: A calculator will be allowed on all math portions, and reading passages will be much shorter and more numerous, for example.

Please reach out to us to discuss your student’s situation and match with a tutor. You can reach us by calling (650) 331-3251 or (408) 345-5200. We look forward to working with you!


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