# PSAT Test-Taking Strategies: Top 3 Tips

Enhance your test prep by reviewing our top PSAT test-taking tips and strategies. As you study for the exam, you should familiarize yourself with what’s tested on the PSAT as well as the structure of the two tests it entails: Reading & Writing and Math. The PSAT tips and strategies outlined in this article can be applied to either of these tests to help raise your PSAT score.

[ READ NEXT: What’s a Good PSAT Score? ]

## PSAT Strategies: How to Approach the Digital PSAT

The PSAT is different from the tests you are used to taking in school. The PSAT is going digital as of fall 2023, and while the content of the exam is staying the same, its structure and scoring system will be slightly different than its predecessor. The good news is that you can use the new PSAT’s particular structure to your advantage.

For example, on a test given in school, you probably go through the questions in order. You spend more time on the harder questions than on the easier ones because harder questions are usually worth more points. You probably often show your work because your teacher tells you that how you approach a question is as important as getting the correct answer.

This approach is not optimal for the PSAT. On the PSAT, you benefit from moving around within a section if you come across tough questions, because the harder questions are worth the same number of points as the easier questions. It doesn’t matter how you arrive at the correct answer—only that you select the correct answer choice.

Below, we list three expert PSAT tips to help you increase your PSAT score – and test with confidence.

## PSAT Strategy #1: Triage the Test

You do not need to complete questions on the PSAT in order. Every student has different strengths and should attack the test with those strengths in mind. Your main objective on the PSAT should be to score as many points as you can. While approaching questions out of order may seem counter-intuitive, it is a surefire way to achieve your best score.

Just remember, you can skip around within each section, but you cannot work on a section other than the one you’ve been instructed to work on.

To triage the PSAT effectively, do the following:

1. First, work through all the easy questions that you can do quickly. Skip questions that are hard or time-consuming. For the Reading and Writing & Language Tests, start with the passage you find most manageable and work toward the one you find most challenging. You do not need to go in order!
2. Next, work through the questions that are doable but time-consuming
3. Then, work through the hard questions
4. If you run out of time, pick a Letter of the Day for remaining questions. A Letter of the Day is an answer choice letter (A, B, C, or D) that you choose before Test Day to select for questions you guess on.

## PSAT Strategy #2: Use Elimination

Even though there is no wrong-answer penalty on the exam, Elimination is still a crucial PSAT strategy. If you can determine that one or more answer choices are definitely incorrect, you can increase your chances of getting the right answer by paring the selection down.

To eliminate answer choices, do the following:

2. Cross out the answer choices that are incorrect

## PSAT Strategy #3: Take a Guess

Each question on the PSAT has four answer choices and no wrong-answer penalty. That means if you have no idea how to approach a question, you have a 25 percent chance of randomly choosing the correct answer. Even though there’s a 75 percent chance of selecting the incorrect answer, you won’t lose any points for doing so.

The worst that can happen on the PSAT is that you’ll earn zero points on a question, which means you should always at least take a guess, even when you have no idea what to do.

When guessing on a question, do the following:

• Always try to strategically eliminate answer choices before guessing
• If you run out of time, or have no idea what a question is asking, pick a Letter of the Day

### Expert Test Tip

Heather Waite, Pre-College Instructor

“There is only one correct answer. There is no ‘best’ answer. Every wrong answer on the test has a flaw; find the flaws, find the answer!”

## Common PSAT Testing Myths

Since its inception in 1971, the PSAT/NMSQT has gone through various revisions, but it has always been an integral part of helping high school students qualify for various scholarships, including the National Merit Scholarship. As a result of its significance and the changes it has undergone, a number of rumors and myths have circulated about the exam. In this section, we’ll dispel some of the most common PSAT myths. As always, you can find the most up-to-date information about the new Digital PSAT on the College Board website.