Approaches & Strategies
Tips for taking the PSAT/NMSQT
Although the best preparation for the PSAT/NMSQT is long term—such as taking solid academic courses and reading widely—students will perform better on the test if they know what to expect on test day.
Short-term approaches and strategies
Encourage your students to follow these approaches and strategies:
- Take the practice test in The Official Student Guide to the PSAT/NMSQT.
- Learn the directions for each type of math and critical reading question.
- Try sample questions from past tests.
- Earn as many points as they can on easy questions.
- Read all the answer choices before marking their answer sheets.
- Do their scratchwork in the test book.
- Skip test questions—they don't have to answer every question to do well.
- Work steadily without wasting time on hard questions—they can always go back to them later.
- Check their answer sheets regularly to make sure they're in the right place.
- Write answers to grid-ins in the boxes above the ovals.
- Try educated guessing when they can eliminate at least one answer to a multiple-choice question.
- Take a calculator on test day.
Educated guessing means guessing an answer whenever one or more of the choices can be eliminated as definitely wrong. Encourage students to use educated guessing.
Because ¼ of a point is deducted for a wrong answer to multiple-choice questions, random guessing is not recommended. Advise students to leave that question blank and move on to the next one.
Students can earn an above-average score by getting only half the questions right and omitting answers for the rest of the questions.