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Day before the test

Review the Kaplan Methods you've learned in class.

Put new batteries in your calculator.

Pack your backpack or bag for Test Day with the following items:

  • Photo ID (if required by your school)
  • Registration slip or print-out
  • Five or more sharpened #2 pencils (no mechanical pencils)
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Calculator
  • Extra batteries
  • Non-prohibited watch
  • Tissues
  • Pre-packaged snacks, like granola bars
  • Bottled water, juice, or sports drink
  • Sweatshirt, sweater, or jacket

Night before the test

  • No studying!
  • Do something relaxing that will take your mind off the test, like watching a movie or having a quiet dinner with friends or family.
  • Set your alarm to wake up early enough so that you won't feel rushed.
  • Go to bed early, but not too much earlier than you usually do. You want to fall asleep quickly, not spend hours tossing and turning.

Morning of the test

  • Dress comfortably and in layers. You need to be prepared for any temperature.
  • Eat a filling breakfast, but don't stray too far from your usual routine. If you normally aren't a breakfast eater, don't eat a huge meal but make sure you have something substantial.
  • While eating breakfast, read something! You need to warm up your brain, not go into the test cold. Read a few pages of a newspaper, magazine, or book.
  • Get to your school early. There is likely to be some confusion about where to go and how to sign in, check with your counselor for details.
  • Leave your cell phone at home or in your locker. They are not permitted in testing rooms.

During the test

  • Be calm and confident. You're ready for this!
  • Remember that while the PSAT is a 2 hour and 45 minute exam, it is also a series of sections. Focus on the section you're working on at that moment; don't think about previous or upcoming sections.
  • Use the Kaplan Methods as often as you can.
  • Don't linger too long on any one question. If you're stuck, mark it and come back to it later.
  • Can't figure out an answer? There is no penalty for guessing, so try to eliminate some choices and guess strategically. There will be plenty of questions you CAN answer, so spend your time on those!
  • If you find yourself losing concentration, getting frustrated, or stressing about the time, stop for 30 seconds. Close your eyes, put your pencil down, take a few deep breaths, and relax your shoulders. You'll be much more productive after taking a few moments to relax.
  • Use your breaks effectively. During the five-minute break, go to the restroom, eat your snacks, and get your energy up for the next section. During the one-minute break, stand up and do a few stretches to get your blood flowing.

After the test

  • Congratulate yourself! Also, reward yourself by doing something fun. You've earned it.
  • If you got sick during the test or if something else happened that may have negatively affected your score, speak with your counselor regarding your options. Remember that while the PSAT is important for National Merit Scholarships, it also provides terrific practice in preparing to take the SAT® or ACT® down the road. Whether you have a positive or negative experience, take time afterwards to reflect and learn from the event so you can apply those lessons to future admissions exams.
  • Your school will share your PSAT scores sometime between December and February. Check with your counselor to see when they'll be provided.
  • Email your Kaplan instructor with your PSAT scores. We want to hear how well you did!

Good luck on test day!

We can't wait to hear your success story!