Why buy a bunch of practice tests when you can find them online for free? To make your search as easy as possible, I've compiled all of the best PSAT practice tests and sample questions available on the World Wide Web.
Read on for nine downloadable PSAT practice test pdfs, along with four bonus SAT practice tests. Since College Board has only released one official practice test for the current version of the PSAT, I'll also explain how you can modify older practice tests to prepare.
Let's get right to it with the first official PSAT practice test pdf for you to download.
Practice Tests for the New PSAT
Since the PSAT changed in the fall of 2015, there aren't a whole lot of current PSAT practice materials available. College Board has come out with two sample PSAT tests, along with answer keys. These are the best resources out there so far for practice questions for the PSAT:
Test prep company Ivy Global also has made their version of a PSAT practice test pdf available. Keep in mind that these aren't official College Board questions. While they resemble questions on the test and are useful practice, they're not an exact representation of what you'll encounter on test day.
As time goes on, more and more practice materials specific to the current version of the PSAT should be released. For now, you can still use older practice tests to prep effectively, as well as practice questions for the SAT. Before we delve into those test prep materials, how can you use these two new PSAT practice tests to study?
How to Use These Practice Tests
As I mentioned, College Board's official practice test is the best representation of what you'll see when you take the PSAT. Before taking it, you should review the content and format of the PSAT so you have a sense of what skills to focus on and develop.
When you actually take the practice test, you should simulate testing conditions by timing yourself and making sure you're familiar with the format and instructions. Like with the SAT, there's no score penalty for wrong answers, meaning you should make your best guess on every question.
Since there's only one official practice test out so far, I would recommend saving it until you have done some initial studying. Then you can see how effective your studying has been, analyze your results to get a clear sense of your strengths and weaknesses, and readjust your focus if need be. You should employ this same approach when you take practice tests from the older version of the PSAT.
Practice Tests for the "Old" PSAT
We've compiled 8 pre SAT practice test pdfs with answer keys that you can download and print out. There are official College Board tests, along with a few unofficial ones. These are the tests that have been used up to this point. They are scored out of 240 (with Critical Reading, Math, and Writing each worth 80 points), and deduct a 1/4 point for each wrong answer. Make sure to keep in mind this system when you score these old practice tests.
As mentioned above, the PSAT no longer takes a 1/4 point deduction for wrong answers. Instead, it uses rights-only scoring, meaning you get 1 point for correct answers and no points for wrong or skipped answers. The PSAT scores Math on a scale from 160 to 760 and Reading and Writing together from 160 to 760. Your composite score will be on a range from 320 to 1520.
You'll also get individual test scores for Math, Reading, and Writing and Language between 8 and 38. Besides using a different scoring system on the old practice tests, what else can you do to make your practice testing relevant for the new PSAT?
How to Use These Practice Tests
To adapt your studying, you should familiarize yourself with the changes in question types and skills on the new PSAT. For instance, the PSAT (and SAT) are eliminating sentence completion questions in favor of passage-based vocabulary questions that ask about "higher utility," or more common, words in context.
The PSAT wants you to be able to find evidence for your answers in a passage, graph, or chart. It asks you to interpret details, main points, or data in the context of a passage or other information it provides. This means you should especially focus on passage-based Reading questions, as well as math questions that ask you to interpret data from charts and graphs.
Generally speaking, the Reading and math questions on old versions of the PSAT are still very useful for prepping for the new PSAT. You should also note that the old PSAT was 2 hours and 10 minutes, while the new one will be longer at 2 hours and 45 minutes. To practice pacing yourself over this longer amount of time, you might add an extra section or two to your practice test.
All of these changes in content, skills, and scoring also match the ones being made to the new SAT. We've compiled 4 practice tests for the new SAT which you can use to prep! Plus you can find free SAT practice questions online.
But wait, there's more!
Practice Tests and Sample Questions for the New SAT
Like the new PSAT, there aren't a ton of practice materials out there yet for the current version of the SAT, which was first administered in the spring of 2016. However, we've gathered 4 practice tests with answer keys that you can download and take.
In addition to these practice tests, you can find some free online sample questions for the new tests at College Board. You might notice that they ask some of the same sample questions for both the PSAT and SAT. This speaks to how similar the tests have become. Whatever studying you do for the new PSAT will help you a great deal once you take the SAT.
Finally, you can also create an account with Khan Academy and find high quality practice questions for the SAT. Given that the redesigned tests are so similar, are there any modifications you need to make when using SAT practice questions to prep for the PSAT?
How to Use These Practice Tests and Questions
The questions on the SAT and PSAT are almost identical. SAT math may get a bit more advanced into algebra and functions, but otherwise the questions are very similar. The one exception is that the PSAT doesn't have an optional essay section.
The SAT is somewhat longer at 3 hours (plus the additional 50 minute optional essay). They resemble each other in content and scoring, except that the SAT is a bit more difficult than the PSAT. As I discussed above, the PSAT is scored on a range from 320 to 1520, with a range of 160 to 760 for Math and 160 to 760 for Reading and Writing.
The SAT, on the other hand, is scored on a range between 400 and 1600. The scale for Math is 200 to 800 and the scale for Reading and Writing is 200 to 800. Your PSAT scores are meant to predict your SAT scores, but the range doesn't go up as high to account for the fact that the PSAT is a slightly easier test. While a high score on the PSAT predicts a high SAT score, it doesn't necessarily coincide with a perfect 1600.
As with the PSAT practice tests, I would recommend timing yourself and simulating testing conditions. Then take the time to understand any mistakes you made and determine your strengths and weaknesses. Since the PSAT and SAT are so similar, you could use one test as a diagnostic pre-test and one as a post-test to figure out where you're starting out and then gauge your progress after significant studying.
Given all these practice materials, new and old, you should have plenty to help you achieve a strong score on the PSAT. Let's quickly review the steps you should take to prep for the PSAT.
Down to the last piece of the puzzle...
Best Ways to Prep for the New PSAT
The best resource for practice questions is the official PSAT practice test released by College Board and provided at the beginning of this guide. Official questions are always the gold standard when it comes to sample questions, as they are the best representation of what will be on your test.
Since the PSAT is so similar to the SAT, the practice tests and free online questions for the SAT are also very useful prep. These questions will help you get ready for both tests. Finally, you can still use older PSAT practice tests very effectively, as long as you familiarize yourself with the changes and focus your energies on the relevant content and skills. This understanding will also help you avoid wasting time on material that's no longer relevant, like sentence completion questions.
As long as you take the time to understand the redesign and adapt your test prep accordingly, you can still use the abundance of practice material out there to prep effectively for the PSAT. As an added bonus, all of this prep will help you out a great deal in the future when you take the SAT.
If your scores qualify you for National Merit distinction, you may also be eligible for National Merit scholarships. Read about how to earn a National Merit scholarship here.
Are you taking the SAT in 2016 or after? Check out this full guide to learn all about the test.
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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.