Without much fanfare, the College Board just released a sample of the redesigned PSAT which will be administered on October 14 of this year. Remember, the PSAT is a shortened version of the SAT, so by examining it, we know about the new SAT set to launch in March 2016. (Four samples redesigned SATs are scheduled to be released in June.)

First, let’s look at the downside of the old PSAT vs. the new PSAT. The new PSAT is:

  • 35 minutes longer
  • 60 minutes of reading passages
  • testing somewhat more advanced math concepts

That’s about all of the downside I could find! That said, let’s look at the upside of the new (P)SAT:

  • Because challenging vocabulary is not tested, no need to learn those ‘hard’ words
  • Since grammar is tested within reading passages which provides so much more context then before, it will be much easier to improve, and consequently, elevate the reading score. (Looking at the Writing and Language Test, it looks just like the ACT English!)
  • There are fewer math questions and concepts tested so the plugging in strategy should work even better on this revised exam
  • The reading is more similar to the ACT; easier than the current SAT – the passages as well as the options tend to be more straightforward (as it is on the ACT)
  • Many students often struggle with the science section on the ACT. That said, the (P)SAT has the incorporated a couple graphs into the both the math and reading sections, but they make do not demand the same type of focus as is necessary on the ACT. Translation: Easier!
  • The new (P)SAT has only 4 choices not 5 and there is no penalty for incorrect answers. (Just like the ACT!)
  • If a prep course teaches reading efficiency skills and techniques – improving reading speed, focus, and comprehension – as well as how to read for the point – it will be easier to raise reading scores since esoteric vocabulary is not tested

For what it’s worth, this confirmed what I had ascertained after seeing piecemeal portions of the test:  The (P)SAT is easier than old (P)SAT and probably easier than the ACT. Therefore, sophomore, don”t take the old SAT next fall! Remember, most commentators believe that the primary motivation for changing the SAT was because it was losing market share to the ACT. After, seeing the redesigned PSAT, that opinion appears more true than false.

That said, what should a parent of a sophomore do?

  • First and foremost, make sure your teen keeps his/her grades up
  • Get a copy of the BreakThrough Test Prep Success Kit: 10 DIY Strategies to Boost SAT and ACT Scores (with or without a prep course)
  • Plan for your teen to begin test preparation over the summer for the October 15,  PSAT.  I have been recommending beginning test prep over the summer for years, as it takes the pressure of SAT (or ACT) preparation.
  • Since the redesigned (P)SAT is more like the ACT, preparing for one is more like preparing for both. (Not true with the old SAT format.)
  • Most importantly, schedule your complimentary Test Prep Strategy Session NOW! Get an individualized game plan based on student level and need so you will have complete clarity about moving forward in this process, i.e. what exam and when to take, why tutoring is the best option, how much tutoring and when to begin, what is covered and how a session is conducted, tuition options and discounts and much more!

I look forward to meeting both you and your teen. Click here to schedule. Breakthrough Test Prep offers one-on-one in person and Skype sessions as well as half day Quick Start Workshops.

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