While a student’s PSAT score isn’t reported to colleges, being named a National Merit Semifinalist or Finalist is always a nice plus in elite college admissions. And why? Because it subliminally conveys to college admissions officers that a student did well on the SAT (or ACT for that matter) without extensive and often expensive prep. This, of course, isn’t always the case since students can secure intensive tutoring in advance of the PSAT. Nonetheless, that subliminal message is imprinted on the brains of admissions officers whether the students had tutoring or not. And so if you happen to be interested in Ivy Coach’s PSAT prep, we thought we’d share with you some tips on study materials and such. We have no affiliation with any material we recommend below nor are we compensated in any way for recommending the material — we simply think it’s the best.
If the student is a rising sophomore or younger, we recommend focusing on foundational materials rather than practice tests for the PSAT or SAT: challenging reading in sophisticated periodicals, a focused program of vocabulary building, building up math skills in algebra using Khan Academy tools, etc. If the student is a rising junior, then we recommend going right into SAT prep, because summer before 11th grade is the key time to do the bulk of SAT prep. The student can start with the official PSAT practice tests, creating an account on College Board’s website and through Khan Academy in order to access explanations of the questions (but note that all practice tests and drills should be done on paper, not online).
PSAT and SAT Prep Materials Ivy Coach Recommends
The Official SAT Study Guide, 2018 Edition by The College Board. It’s the new SAT prep “bible” with eight official practice tests for the redesigned SAT beginning in March 2016, plus full explanations of the answers in the book and in comprehensive online tools. Note that all of the material in this book is available for download or for online test prep on College Board’s website as well as through Khan Academy. The College Board has also uploaded two PSAT sample tests and two sample essays with scored examples that are not found in this book. We recommend buying the book for the tests it contains and then downloading and printing out the additional material as needed. Be sure to print out all test materials, as it’s important to take the test on actual paper rather than a computer screen.
PWN the SAT: Math Guide, 4th Edition by Mike McClenathan. We cannot praise this book enough. Run, don’t walk to buy this terrific student-friendly guidebook to SAT Math. Also, check out the book’s amazing companion website and blog for advanced questions. It also happens to be a place for a student to ask their own questions, which one can post and the author will answer!
Applerouth’s Guide to the SAT 2nd Edition. Applerouth is fantastic in all sections of the test. The math chapters are particularly excellent…and challenging. The practice tests are among the best approximations of the SAT on the market. We highly recommend it. It’s only available for purchase from the Applerouth website. International students should email to the company to arrange shipping. For less advanced or confident math students, we have a new favorite: The New Math SAT Game Plan.
Interested in Ivy Coach’s PSAT prep? If so, fill out our free consult form indicating as much and we’ll be in touch.