PSAT prep from the Merit Scholars

Althea Lutz, Staff Writer

Although the PSAT is over, there are many more upcoming standardized tests to prepare for. It can be difficult to balance the added responsibility of studying for an exam to already busy schedules. Luckily, you’re not alone. Na Pueo reached out to Kyler Saiki, a National Merit Semi-Finalist, Fiona Sievert, a Commended Student, and Derrick Kang, the Director of College Counseling about the best way to prepare for exams.

How do you prepare for standardized tests?
Fiona: I usually set up a practice plan. I schedule what I’m going to do every week and how often. I practice for about half an hour a day, and then, for the PSAT and SAT, I try to complete a practice test every weekend for a couple of weeks beforehand so I can prepare myself.

Kyler: Properly preparing for standardized tests takes a lot of practice. I take around eight or nine practice tests beforehand, three of them being about two weeks before I take the standardized test. 

What advice would you give students preparing for standardized tests?

Fiona: It’s important to create a plan. Make sure to sit down and prepare. If you get really stressed in these kinds of situations, go through a plan of all the things that could possibly go wrong and have a worst case scenario. That way, you’ll be ready if anything goes wrong and be able to relax.

Kyler: In preparing for them, take a lot of practice tests. After each one, write down what you got wrong and what topics you didn’t really know, then just study them before you take the next practice test, and keep going until you feel really comfortable.

Mr. Kang: For juniors and seniors, Khan Academy is a great program to use to prepare for the PSAT and the SAT. The PSAT will help students prepare for the National Merit program as well as the SAT. 

What should students do the night before taking a standardized test?
Fiona: Sleep. That’s all.

Kyler: I would just get a really good night’s sleep. That’s all you have to do.

Mr. Kang: The night before an exam, students should get a good night’s sleep. Don’t go out and do anything too strenuous. Just make sure to get a good night’s sleep, wake up early, have breakfast, and bring snacks to take to the exam because it’s long.

What mistakes have you made in the past when studying for standardized tests?
Fiona: Not studying is something that I’ve done, which is not a good idea. Also, many times I’d  make the mistake of cramming all the material into my brain the night before. I’d look over everything and try to memorize as much as I can, but that never really helps so definitely don’t do that.

Kyler: Sophomore year, I didn’t even know what was going to be on the PSAT until the day before. I tried to study the night before, but I felt unprepared during the exam.