WRITING: WRITE NATURALLY.
MATH: WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING ON EVERY PROBLEM. DOUBLE-CHECK EVERYTHING. MAKE SURE YOUR ANSWER ANSWERS THE QUESTION
MOST PEOPLE read the passage quickly, then have to re-read it many times to answer all the questions; or even worse, they answer the questions without reading the entire passage.
INSTEAD, YOU SHOULD read the passage ACTIVELY (analyzing, questioning, and thinking about the meaning of every little piece of it as you read). This will make most questions easy to answer without having to do much re-reading.
PASSIVE READING: Lady Carlotta stepped out on to the platform of the small wayside station and took a turn or two up and down its uninteresting length, to kill time till the train should be pleased to proceed on its way.
ACTIVE READING: Lady Carlotta ["Lady" must mean she is from a noble or royal family.] stepped out [Out of what?] on to the platform of the small wayside station [What kind of station? Bus? Train?] and took a turn or two up and down its uninteresting length [She is walking back and forth along the station. There is nothing interesting to see.], to kill time [She has nothing else to do while she waits.] till the train [Aha! It's a train station.] should be pleased to proceed on its way [She is thinking of the train as having feelings, and of it having a choice in when it will leave the station.].
WHY THIS WORKS: Active reading takes more time at first, but probably less time than having to re-read the passage for each new question. By reading actively, you will remember much more, and if you have done it well, you will notice that the questions are asking you things you already thought about and answered for yourself!!
PS: Read the questions carefully, too, then eliminate the wrong answers. If you can't decide between two answers, don't just pick one (if you want a high score); instead, go ahead and look at the passage again and figure out which answer is the better one. On well-designed standardized tests, the answer does have to be contained in the passage!!
PPS: If there are charts or graphs, analyze those thoroughly first, before reading the passage.
WRITING AND LANGUAGE TEST:
MOST PEOPLE pay too much attention to just the underlined words.
INSTEAD, YOU SHOULD pay attention to the meaning and flow of the WHOLE text. If something about the underlined text sounds odd or makes the sentence hard to read, that is your brain telling you there is probably an error. You should look at the entire sentence to decide how to fix it in a way that would sound direct, simple, and NATURAL to an educated native speaker of American English.
AN EXTREME EXAMPLE: Yet some of the earliest known works of art, including paintings and drawings tens of thousands of years old found on cave walls in Spain and France, portrays animals.
Yet some of the earliest known works of art
, including paintings and drawings tens of thousands of years old found on cave walls in Spain and France, portrays animals. (Information between commas is often just extra information, and on the PSAT is often there to distract you.)
Yet some of the earliest known works of art...portrays animals. (This is the relevant part of the sentence.)
Yet some of the earliest known works
of art...portrays animals. ("Of art" is just a prepositional phrase describing what kind of works are being discussed. The real subject of this sentence, though, is "works.")
Yet some of the earliest known works...portray animals. ("the…works…portray" is correct; "the…works…portrays" is not.)
PS: Sometimes the PSAT asks you to replace incorrect text with "correct" text that has a different meaning. Don't fight it. Just pick the one that works best, based on what the question is asking.
MOST PEOPLE read the question once, then have to read it one or two more times, and they also make the mistake of trying to do too much in their heads instead of on paper. (Doing math on paper is almost like having two heads, and two heads are better than one! At least if you want to get the right answers, and the points!)
INSTEAD YOU SHOULD WRITE DOWN EVERY PIECE OF INFORMATION AS YOU READ THE QUESTION THE FIRST TIME. Make a habit of doing this on every question. Then all the information will be where you can see it, and you will spend less time having to re-read questions. ALSO, if the question is "What is the value of x+5?," then write down "x+5=?" and CIRCLE IT. NEXT write down everything else you know about the problem (if there is a square with side of length 2, then write "2" on every side and mark right angles in every corner; if the problem says "segment AB, not shown," then draw in the line segment between points A and B; etc.). ONCE YOU HAVE every possible piece of information written down and visible, give yourself a couple seconds to see if there is an easy way to get the answer. If so, do it. If not, just try going step-by-step, ALWAYS DOUBLE-CHECKING EVERYTHING ("OK, 5 + 18 is 23 [Is 5 + 18 really 23? Yes, it is.] and 23 times 4 is 82 [Does 23 times 4 equal 82? No wait, 92. Right? Yes.]"), and then MAKING SURE THE ANSWER YOU GET REALLY DOES ANSWER THE QUESTION ["Yay! x is 12! Wait. What is the question I circled earlier? 'x+5=?' Uh-oh! x is 12, but x+5 is 17. The answer to the question is 17."]
PS: If you are having trouble with a question, circle the question number and move on. Go get the easy points first! Then come back to the difficult questions, starting with the easiest one.
PPS: On the whole test, but especially on the math test: 1. BE CAREFUL, 2. BE CAREFUL, 3. BE CAREFUL! Most lost points are from not reading the question correctly, going too quickly, not double-checking everything, etc., and all of these errors are avoidable if you just ALWAY REMEMBER TO ALWAYS BE CAREFUL!
GO INTO THE TESTand into each problemwith A POSITIVE ATTITUDE, telling yourself YOU CAN DO THIS! YOU CAN BEAT THE TEST! YOU CAN DO YOUR BEST ON EACH PROBLEM! YOU CAN GET YOUR BEST SCORE POSSIBLE BY STAYING CALM, STAYING POSITIVE, ALWAYS BEING CAREFUL, AND DOING YOUR BEST!!
GOOD LUCK! DO YOUR BEST! YOU CAN DO THIS!!!