PSAT Reading Practice Test
The PSAT is the preliminary SAT. You can think of it as a trial run to help you prepare for the SAT. But it’s not just a practice round for the real SAT. It can also be used to help qualify you for scholarships and awards so it’s just as important to prepare for and do your best on this test as it is for the actual SAT.
How Do I Sign Up for the PSAT?
Register by talking to your school counselor or, if you are home-schooled, any school counselor at a school in your area. They will help you sign up for the test. If your require special testing accommodations for a cognitive, physical, or learning disabilities, let your counselor know when you are registering for the exam.
What Do I Need to Bring with Me on Test Day?
In order to get through the test with minimal problems and stress, you should pack a bag the night before with the following items:
- A photo ID
- An extra eraser
- Any medications or medical devices you might require, such as insulin, an inhaler, or an epinephrine injector.
- A printout of your test registration slip
- A pencil sharpener
- Extra batteries for your calculator
- At least 5 sharpened #2 pencils with erasers (you cannot use mechanical pencils).
- Bottled water and small snacks for your break
The morning of the test, go through that bag and double check to make sure you definitely have each item on the list.
What Skills Will I Be Tested on in the Reading Section?
The reading section measures your ability to comprehend, analyze, and draw conclusions based on texts. You will mostly be asked to demonstrate these skills on a single text but you will have a few questions that ask you to synthesize information and ideas from two different texts.
The questions will be divided across four different types of passages as follows:
- 9 questions based on a US and World Literature passage
- 9 or 10 questions based on a History and Social Studies passage
- Two Science passages with 9 or 10 questions each
- A set of two History and Social Studies passages with 9 or 10 questions asking you to synthesize the information from both.
Each of the single passages will be somewhere between 500 and 700 words while the two paired passages will be 250-350 words each. Some of the passages, most likely the ones from Science, History and Social Studies may include graphical representations of data like charts, tables, and graphs. So, in addition to interpreting text, you’ll also need to develop your skills for interpreting visual data.
For each set of questions you encounter in this section, they will be organized from more general information to more specific details which means they should naturally move from easier questions to more difficult questions.
This ordering of questions is actually advantageous in that they sort of naturally build on each other, with each question demanding you dig a little bit deeper or do a little more inference and analytical work.
What Is a Good Score on the PSAT Reading Section?
Your overall score will fall somewhere between 320 and 1520. The reading section is scored with the writing section on a scale of 160 to 760. A “good score” depends on what your main goals are for taking the PSAT.
If you are primarily trying to assess what your strengths and weaknesses are in preparation for the SAT, then a reading and writing score of 500 or more is an indication that this is definitely one of your strong points. You will still want to devote some study time to them just to maintain them but they won’t have to be your priority.
If, on the other hand, you want a score that will help you qualify for scholarship funding, should aim for at least 535 on this section (and 1070 total). The higher you go above this target, the more scholarship money you stand to win.
How Should I Study for the Reading Section?
For this section of the test, you will have exactly 60 minutes to read 2500 to 3500 words total (spread across six different passages) and answer 48 questions relating to what you read. So there are a few different goals your study sessions need to target in order to do that successfully:
- Increase reading speed without decreasing comprehension
- Improve focus and attention to detail
- Improve memory and recall
- Familiarize yourself with the different kinds of topics and genres that you’ll encounter on the test.
One of the best things you could do is simply make more time to read. You can create a weekly reading schedule that includes one literary novel, one nonfiction book or magazine discussing a topic in history or social studies, and one nonfiction book or magazine discussing a topic in science. To make this more engaging, make sure to choose novels and books that seem interesting to you.
You also need to get comfortable with the specific demands of the test. For that you need the Mometrix Study Guide which has been tailor made to help you develop the kind of reading skills you’ll need for the PSAT.
You’ll have access to dozens of reading passages that have been specifically designed to be similar both in length, content, and difficulty level to the ones you’ll be reading on exam day. Moreover, you’ll get lots of practice questions that will help you strengthen your ability to extract and synthesize information from the text in exactly the same way you’ll need to for the test.
Between your reading schedule and the Mometrix Study Guide, you’ll be able to greatly improve many of the skills you need. However, a set of Mometrix Flashcards will help you specifically work on your speed and accuracy with answering questions. This will round out your study session so that you are working on every single skill you need to master the reading section.