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Acing The PSAT

The official PSAT test study guide will tell you what you're supposed to know before you walk into the exam room. It will sum up the content and explain the formats of the questions. You should certainly be familiar with it.

What the guide won't tell you though is how to ace the PSAT when you aren't sure of the answer. That isn't because you can't do it; it's because they don't want you to know how to do it.

Ways To Ace The PSAT

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1. Critical Reading Section

To do well on the critical reading questions, you must:
  • Become involved in what you're reading
  • Look for key words to help you find the meaning
  • Remember that the answers are in the passage--you won't be asked for outside knowledge of the subject

2. Math Section

To do well on the Regular Multiple Choice questions, you must:
  • Look at the answer choices before you begin to work on each questioning
  • Read each question carefully, even if it looks like a question you don't think you can answer. Don't let the form of the question keep you from trying to answer it.
  • If your answer isn't among the choices, try writing it in a different form. You may have the same answer in a different mathematical format.

3. Writing Skills

To do well on the sentence completion questions, you must:
  • Read the sentence for its overall meaning and internal logic, then quickly look over the choices--many times, this strategy alone will point you toward the answer, since your common sense may tell you that two or three of the choices (or four, if you are lucky) do not fit at all.
  • Eliminate as many of the obvious wrong choices as you can.
  • Look at key words that may point you to the meaning, words that introduce the sentence or link its parts together. Often these words will tell you whether the two parts of the sentence have a similar meaning or an opposite meaning. For example, as, since, because, therefore, and similarly link two sentence parts with similar meanings. Yet, but, however,and on the contrary link two parts of sentences that have opposite meanings.

To do well on the improving paragraphs question, you must:
  • Read the whole essay quickly to get the overall sense of it. Do not linger on the errors--these are what you will be asked questions about.
  • Pay close attention to the context of the sentence or paragraph in question, making sure that your revision (if any) makes sense in terms of the whole essay.
  • Choose the best answer from the five choices, even if you can think of a better revision than the ones offered.

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