To earn the coveted designation of “National Merit Semifinalists,” juniors must score in the top 1% of all 11th graders in Texas. Historically, the “selection index” cutoff score has been between 220 and 221 out of 228, which is roughly equivalent to a 1480 out of 1600 on an SAT.
Students start with a full-length diagnostic/practice test to evaluate their current strengths and weaknesses. The test should be as realistic as possible, including timed conditions. The test can be either a previously released PSAT or SAT.
Concept review comprises the bulk of PSAT test prep. To do well, students must have a firm grasp of the tested math and reading concepts. The PSAT test the exact same concepts in the exact same way as the SAT. No amount of tips and tricks will compensate for not knowing fractions or how to identify a main idea.
As students strengthen their fundamental math and reading skills, they must still be able to apply that knowledge to the new and novel ways tested on the PSAT reasoning sections. The best way to ensure this capability is to work many test-like practice questions.
The process of PSAT test prep is continual, and the duration and intensity of preparation will depend on the disparity between the student’s starting place and desired outcome. Most of our students will take a minimum of 3 full-length practice tests before their one chance to do well on the PSAT.
PSAT test prep is different from SAT prep in that usually the goal is to score in the top 1% and that students can only take the test one time. As such most students prepare to a higher level of preparedness.