Reading Tips

Tips to improve PSAT 8/9 Reading score


1. Do the passages in any order

The PSAT 8/9 Reading Test is always the first one you’ll encounter on test day. You have 55 minutes to complete 42 multiple-choice questions. The questions are spread among five essays that include 7-8 questions each. The PSAT does not penalize you for wrong answers! As you practice, you will start to realize which passages types are easier and which are more challenging for you. Just make sure you're bubbling in the right question number on your answer sheet...

2. Time yourself as you practice

If you spend 3 minutes reading a passage, you will have one minute to answer each question associated with the passage. If you are spending more than 3 minutes reading a passages, you may not be able to finish all of the questions on test day. As you become more and more confident with your accuracy, try to get as precise as possible with the timing of your note taking.

3. Make sure you underline anything that seems significant to you

Look for words and phrases that reveal the author's opinion, or give the main idea of each paragraph. It doesn't matter if you write all over the test booklet. In fact, it's better if you do! Underline, circle, write 3-5 word summaries of each paragraph ... whatever works for you. Just don't get so carried away with the note taking that you run out of time.

4. Find the author's point of view as you read

Do you find yourself getting lost in the details, or reading too quickly and missing some of the important information? For the Reading test, you’ve got to strike a balance between reading for the author’s point of view and for the function of each paragraph, while also noting the location of important details in case you need to come back later. How do you do all of this at the same time?

5. For Vocabulary in Context questions, go back to the passage

A commonly used vocab word often takes on a secondary definition within PSAT reading passages. Do not assume that the common meaning is the correct answer; there may be several meanings you do not know. Go back to the passage and see how the word is being used in context.

6. Always pre-phrase an answer

Before you look at the answer choices, use your understanding of the passage to predict your answer. Then match your prediction to the answer choices. This will save you time. Don't get stuck weighing answer choices. Cross out all answer choices that don’t match your prediction, pick the best available answer, and move on!

7. Try to simplify complicated questions

If you read a question and it is confusing or unclear to you, rephrase it in simpler terms. Think of it as though you were going to explain the question to a small child. What is it really asking?

8. After 11 minutes, move on to the next passage

The PSAT 8/9 Reading Test is 55 minutes long and contains five passages which means you'll have 11 minutes to spend on each passages. The questions do not increase in difficulty from easy to hard. Instead, they are presented as logically as possible, with general questions about central ideas, themes, point of view, overall text structure, and the like coming early in the sequence. After that come more specific questions about such matters as facts, details, and words in context.

9. Bubble your answer carefully

If you do decide to skip around, make sure you are still bubbling your answers into the corresponding numbers on the answer grid. You don’t want to lose points because you bubbled incorrectly! Stay with a passage until you have answered as many questions as you can before you proceed to the next passage. Do not jump from passage to passage.

10. Do at least three to four PSAT 8/9 Reading practice tests

Full-length practice tests are not easy to find. Using Analyze Ed you will have the opportunity to work with a pre-test, a post-test, and multiple reading passages as part of your content practice plan.