A Guide To The SAT/PSAT


Bill Le

Yes, that’s right, another test, but don’t worry this is different from Start Strong Testing! The SAT/PSAT is a standardized test widely used for college admissions in the United States. This test is arguably way more important than the SST, especially for students who want secondary education after high school. You may have noticed that this test is split into two separate names: SAT and PSAT. The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is the big one everyone talks about and is taken by mostly seniors and juniors. This test costs $60 to take and this is the one test you want to be good at, being the one you send to universities you’re applying for. On the other hand, the PSAT (Practice Scholastic Aptitude Test) is basically the same thing as the SAT except it is taken by 9th, 10th, and 11th graders (sometimes 8th). This test is mandatory for 9th and 10th with exceptions for 11th. This test is meant to prepare students for the real thing as it is undoubtedly a very important and hard test so rigorous practice is necessary. 

The test is divided into 3 main sections, Reading, Writing & Language, and Math (which is broken into calculator and non-calculator sections). You have 65 minutes to complete the reading section, 35 minutes to complete Writing & Language, and 80 Minutes for Math (25 minutes for the non-calculator section; 55 minutes for the calculator section). The test contains over a little 150 questions which are all multiple choice with 50~ for Reading, 40~ for Writing & Language, and 60~ for Math ( 20~ a question non-calculator section and a 40~ question calculator section). The test is also out of 1600 as the maximum score with a minimum score of around 400. So now that you know what and why, let’s talk about how, when, and where. 

A few days prior to taking the test, students will have been given a study booklet used to prepare for the practice test. Unlike last time, this test will only last one day (October 12) and will last approximately from 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM. Student testing locations will be plastered on the same board that the SST was, which is in the main lobby. Students are expected to be in your testing location on time. This is a NOT DIGITAL TEST so students will not need to bring their Chromebook. With that being said, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you keep ALL of your belongings INCLUDING ANY ELECTRONIC DEVICES EXCEPT CALCULATORS AND PENCILS in your locker. If students are caught with something that can be considered as “a method of cheating” their test will be revoked and voided; this applies to both the PSAT and SAT.

The test may be a little confusing to take but rest assured, your assigned teacher will tell you everything you know to ensure that when you take the test. During the test there will be short increments of time where you are allowed to take a break, eat/drink, and go to the bathroom. Once you have completed the entire test, please remain in your seat quietly and listen to the further instructions given to you by your test manager. Once everyone has concluded their test, further instructions will be given and you are expected to follow those instructions and guidelines until 11:30 AM. Once the test has concluded please talk to your respective 5th or 6th-period class and continue the day as normal.

Like last time, now that students have a basic understanding of how this works, hopefully, students will be able to comprehend and handle the most important test of their lives to some minor inconvenience to others. With that being said, don’t treat this test as a joke! Yes, even PSAT takers, upperclassmen who are taking the SAT have a lot more to lose if they don’t take this test seriously because if they do bad they are going to want to redo it which will cost them another $60 adding to the other $60 and it is overall just a big hassle to retake.

For PSAT takers, treat this as a learning experience,  it’s obviously fine if you don’t know how to answer some of the questions since some of the material on the test you probably haven’t learned yet, but treat it as a golden opportunity you are being given an opportunity to practice taking the most important test of your high school life for free so again try your best and put 100% effort into it. After taking the PSAT/SAT, your test results will be found on the CollegeBoard website after a few months. Anyways with all that being said, good luck to all taking the test and the best of luck to those taking the actual SAT.