Essential PSAT Reading Tips

The PSAT, or the Preliminary SAT, is a great way to prepare for the SATs and the college admissions process. But it’s not a cakewalk, either. Doing well on the PSAT is not just a “practice round,” but instead, a full-fledged test that deserves your time and attention if you want to win over college admissions boards.

One particular area that’s great to practice before the PSAT is the reading section. Comprising multiple passages on subjects like world literature, history/social studies, and science, these reading sections will not only test your ability to read quickly, but to thoroughly absorb the context and information with which you’re presented. Below are some essential PSAT reading tips that will help you succeed.

Tips for Improving on the PSAT Reading Section

Too few students adequately prepare for the reading section because they figure that reading is a skill they’ve already mastered. But the PSAT Reading Section isn’t just looking for reading comprehension—it’s looking at your ability to take an author’s intention, handle smaller details, and come away with the most accurate conclusions possible. Here’s how to practice:

  • Use “active reading.” Think of “active reading” as reading a paragraph the way Sherlock Holmes might read a person. The words are written there for a reason. Is the author taking a side in the argument being presented? Are there details that seem like they’ll need to be remembered? The last thing you want to do on the PSAT Reading Section is finish a passage without having any context for what’s being asked. Active reading may seem slower, but it will ensure you don’t have to go back and start from scratch.
  • Make it visual. Don’t be afraid to underline details that you may need to know for later, circle topic sentences, and use other visual elements to help organize your thoughts. You don’t have to be a visual learner to make this work for you. Think about this technique as a quick way to “tag” the key points you’ll need to refer to later.
  • Practice by reading about unfamiliar things. You’d be surprised at how rare this is for students who assume they already have everything they need to read properly. But you can actively work on this skill by taking an information-dense book and approaching it like the PSATs. Find a difficult passage from literature or an unfamiliar textbook and practice digesting as much information as possible from each passage.

Study with a Tutor from Jantzi Test Prep

We hope these essential PSAT reading tips help you better prepare for the test. Reading is one of life’s most important and fundamental skills, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve your ability to digest and process new information. For even more assistance preparing for the PSAT reading questions, and the many other sections of the PSAT, be sure to check out our PSAT tutoring services.  Our professional tutors look forward to helping you succeed!