PSAT: Pervasive Stress & Anxiety Test

PSAT anxietyEven though it’s been over 10 years, I remember the days leading up to taking the PSAT very well.  I was incredibly anxious, even though I knew the PSAT was merely a ‘practice SAT,’ I wanted to perform well. Fortunately, I had practiced many SAT questions prior to taking the PSAT and spent one of my summers before my sophomore year prepping for the SAT.  So even if I didn’t feel 100% confident and still had pre-test jitters, I knew I could tackle most of the content.  It's a cliché, but it's true: practice makes perfect.
The practice paid off and I scored well enough to become a National Merit Commended Scholar.  But that’s not the moral of this story.
The PSAT and SAT is partially a head-game.  If you go into the test too nervous, you might not perform as well as you want to.  On the other hand, if you’re like me, a little anxiety can be a good thing and keep you from becoming complacent.  Because I did so well on the PSAT I did not feel particularly motivated to study hard for the SAT, which I took almost one year later.  Guess what?  Because I was over-confident that I did so well on the PSAT my SAT score only improved marginally from the PSAT.
Looking back I realized that being complacent was not a good thing.  It’s true that in most challenges in life, you can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy.
Now some advice from someone who’s ‘been there.’ Do yourself a favor and practice.  The only way to beat the test is to know what to expect and that comes from consistent effort and practice.  The PSAT is a good diagnostic test that can pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses.  By focusing on areas you are weak in, you can improve your score significantly, but don’t exclusively focus on your weaknesses to the expense of your strengths.   Finally, try not to become complacent.  Just because you scored well on the PSAT or on practice SAT’s doesn’t necessarily mean that you will score just as high on the actual SAT. Keep up your momentum and study consistently in the weeks leading up to the test and you may be pleasantly surprised at your PSAT score.

Jen Chen is a MTP Tutor who attended Washington University in St. Louis (majoring in English literature) and then went on to obtain a J.D. from Northeastern School of Law.  She is originally from Westbury, NY and attended W. Tresper Clarke H.S.  She is also a newlywed and mother to an adorable 7-month old baby girl.  She has been tutoring over 10 years and actually misses the "analogies" section of the old SAT.  In her spare time Jen enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, watching independent films, and tinkering with her letterpress.  

Photo by Masay.

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