1) Go over your PSAT results in depth. First, focus on the main score numbers and percentiles; those are what count. But then go to the College Board website and You’ve learned some techniques to use in reading and the language section now. Can you apply them to your errors on the PSAT? What about in Math? Were there topics that you didn’t know well, or did you go too slow and run out of time?
2) Accept that you will need to put in a LOT more time to your SAT prep in order to get substantially You will need to put in at least two hours of study every week until your SAT to make a big difference. Once a month, you should take a full, timed practice test and then go over your results, learning from your mistakes. This is the most reliable way to raise your scores.
3) Take advantage of College Board and Khan Academy resources by registering for a free account on Khan Academy and linking it to your College Board account and test scores to get free personalized practice for the SAT. Here’s a 1-minute video that explains what to do.
4) As you find areas that you are weaker in, supplement them with other targeted study tools. The new texts and workbooks are coming out now. By now you should have the Official SAT Study Guide (2016 Edition) from the College Board. This is the ONLY book with sample SAT exams written by the writers of the real SAT. It also has full explanations for every question, both in the book and on the College Board website. All four practice tests in this book are downloadable from the College Board website, too. For more practice tests, there’s Cracking the New SAT from The Princeton Review, and 500+ Practice Questions for the New SAT for focused practice in each test section. For Math, two top guides will be published in March 2016: Barron’s Math Workbook for the NEW SAT, 6th Edition and the new SAT edition of the terrific PWN the SAT: Math. For a comprehensive list of the best study resources for both SAT and ACT, here’s a full, annotated list.
5) Finally, there’s one more thing to do: Check out the ACT. Is that an option for you? You may find the ACT is a better fit and since it has not been revamped recently, you’ll benefit from plenty of study resources and the security of taking a tried-and-true exam – rather than serving as a guinea pig for the College Board. You can find the official ACT practice test for 2015-16 on the ACT website, to download and print out. You should take the test under timed conditions, on paper, in one sitting (very important or it is NOT going to be enough like a real test to be comparable to your real PSAT scores), using the bubble sheet, and without distractions.
Whichever test you choose to take, you can thank your bad PSAT scores for the wake-up call. Now is the time to start your SAT prep in earnest.
If you found this article helpful, please share with friends via Facebook or Twitter! Have a comment about this subject or my article? Please let me know via Twitter and in the Comments section here. To get an email about my next article, please click on “Subscribe.”
About the author: Karen Berlin Ishii, a graduate of Brown University, has 25+ years of experience as a teacher and test prep tutor. Karen teaches students in New York and internationally via Skype for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, SHSAT, IELTS, TOEFL and GRE, and also offers tutoring in reading, writing and math. Learn more about Karen at karenberlinishii.com.