If you've recently taken the PSAT, congratulations! For many of you, the PSAT is the start of your standardized testing journey, and you may be wondering what comes next.
At its most basic level, the PSAT is a practice version of the SAT, meant to introduce students to the experience of sitting for college entrance exams. The PSAT is a great opportunity for you to get a taste of SAT/ACT-style questions and begin figuring out your strengths and areas for improvement.
Here's how you can use your experience on the PSAT to plan your next steps more effectively.
1. Reflect on your performance.
It will take several weeks to get your scores back, but in the meantime, you can begin thinking about what went well and what felt challenging to you. Were you more confident on some sections than on others? Did you have trouble finishing questions within the allotted time? These considerations can help you start to identify skills to focus on going forward.
Once you receive your scores, you'll have even more detailed information about the specific questions you omitted and missed, why you struggled with those questions, and patterns in your performance.
2. Take ACT & SAT diagnostic exams.
If you haven't already done so, you'll want to determine which test—the ACT or the SAT—is the better fit for your strengths. There are rumors that certain tests are looked on more or less favorably by college admission boards, but at just about all schools, this is not true. The truth of the matter is that the test you choose should be the one you feel suits you best. Depending on your strengths and weaknesses, one test may offer a sizable advantage.
Ultimately, the best way to determine which test you should take is to complete a full-length practice ACT and a full-length practice SAT and see 1) which score is higher and 2) which test makes you feel more comfortable. You may discover that your diagnostic exam scores are significantly higher on one test than on the other. Or, if your scores end up roughly the same, you can think about which test makes you feel more comfortable and motivated or which test has more low-hanging fruit that may result in bigger, easier score gains.
If this step feels complicated or stressful to you, we're here to help! The team of experts at ArborBridge is happy to set up your diagnostic exams and help you analyze your results, so don't hesitate to reach out. Choosing the right test can go a long way toward easing your stress, saving you time and energy, and setting you up for future success.
3. Start your longer-term planning.
This is a great time to start thinking about your bigger-picture plans. Work with your college counselor to figure out how standardized testing fits into your longer-term goals and aligns with the requirements of the specific schools you're interested in.
These broader goals and timelines will help you identify future testing dates and how many hours of studying you should aim for. Consider whether self-guided study, test prep courses, one-on-one tutoring sessions, or some combination of the above would work best for you. Whatever path you choose, make sure it caters to your unique learning style, personality, and strengths
Though these may be big decisions you're contemplating, that doesn't mean you won’t make the right ones or you'll be on your own in making them. With careful consideration and support, you’ll be on your way to a successful college admissions testing experience!
Need more individualized advice?
The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, reach out to our experts here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.
ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.