Preparing for the Test

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The best way to prepare for the PSAT 8/9 is to become familiar with the test format and content so that you and your student know what to expect.

Because taking the PSAT 8/9 as part of the 4th–6th Grade Talent Search is for diagnostic purposes only, we do not recommend students spend much time preparing beyond that.

In fact, preparing too much may prove harmful to the experience’s diagnostic purpose, since it may lead to an inaccurate measurement of your student’s current academic abilities. Many test preparation programs also simply lead to unnecessary anxiety.


The test measures reading, writing, language, and math skills developed both in and out of school. It emphasizes the meaning of words in a variety of contexts; how word choice shapes meaning, tone, and impact; reasoning and critical thinking skills; and relevant math concepts, including problem-solving, data analysis, algebra, and other advanced mathematical concepts.

Visit the PSAT 8/9 website to learn more.


The PSAT 8/9 uses rights-only scoring. That means you receive a point for a correct answer, but no deduction for an incorrect answer. Blank responses have no impact on the overall score. This is the same scoring policy that the high school-level ACT and SAT tests follow.

You can learn more with the College Board’s PSAT 8/9 Student Guide, which also includes sample questions.