How to Analyze your PSAT Results

Most high school juniors just took the PSAT. The results will be out on December 9, 10, or 11, depending on the state in which you took the test. When they’re released, most students (and parents) are interested in one thing: the overall score. But that’s missing an opportunity to gain important insights into performance—ones you can use to fine-tune prep for the SAT. Note that these instructions are for the online version of your test report, which includes live links to each question on the test.

Here are some ideas:

Math section: click on every problem you got wrong, and make a list of the type of problem (here’s a good overview and explanations of those types). Do you need to review algebra? Better understand how to fill in the grids for the non-multiple choice questions? Zero in on the mistakes you made, look for patterns, then use resources like Khan Academy and your math teacher to turn weaknesses into strengths.

Reading section: again, it’s a good idea to understand the types of questions you missed to see if there are patterns (find a list here). This section is also notorious for taking a long time to complete. Did you miss the last few (or more) questions? That could mean you need to practice picking up your pace. The other thing to look for is passage type: were most of your wrong answers about the historical passage? fiction? Whatever came last (indicating the need to pick up the pace)? Consider working on the passages that are easier for you first first.

Writing section: as with the other two sections, click on every missed question and make a list by question type (find a list here). Do you need to brush up on comma rules (there’s lots of punctuation on the test!), a specific grammar issue? Erica Meltzer’s The Ultimate Guide to SAT Grammar is a great book for diving deep into this section.

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