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Ms. Bekki Leber

September 28, 2023

Test Prep

Going Digital: How to Prepare for Online PSAT/SATs

Fast food orders, medical records, electronic payment methods– every service has an app these days, even standardized testing. The PSAT and SAT are going digital in the 2023-2024 school, breaking nearly a century tradition of paper testing. The first SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) was administered on June 23, 1926, and starting in October of 2023, all students taking the PSAT will be administered a digital test. The SAT will also go all digital the following spring in 2024. With this change, so must test prep. Taking a test on a computer is a very different experience than taking a test on paper. With PSATs just around the corner in October, what are the best practices for exclusively digital standardized tests?

Why Are the PSATs Important?

Before discussing how to prepare for digital tests, let's address why the PSAT is worth preparing for in the first place. Many schools offer the PSAT for free as part of their annual standardized testing for grades 8-11. That means, depending on the district, students can take PSATs up to four times for free before taking the SAT in the spring of their junior year. Four years of test results is a great way to assess strengths and weaknesses and benchmark academic progress. However, taking the PSAT goes beyond simply evaluating improvement areas or determining grade-level progress. PSAT scores determine qualifications for Advanced Placement and National Merit Scholarships. The PSAT score report forecasts AP potential by providing recommendations for individual students based on their scores. Students who take the PSAT and meet the entry requirements will be entered into the National Merit Scholarship Program, setting them up for academic recognition through scholarship opportunities. In addition to National Merit Scholarships, taking the PSAT can qualify students for over $300 million in other college scholarships. With so much opportunity built into the PSAT, taking it seriously sets students up for success outside of a high score on the SAT.

Using Bluebook

In the summer of 2023, the College Board released their first digital practice tests for the PSAT/SAT using the same application that districts use to administer the test. Students can now download Bluebook onto personal devices (Windows/Mac/iPad/Chromebook) and take full-length, timed practice tests for the PSAT and the SAT. Once downloaded and linked to their College Board account, students can access test previews (test format, instructions, and possible question types) or take mock-practice tests that simulate the full-length test experience. Practice tests also generate an in-depth score report highlighting incorrect answers and explanations for each question.

Improve Verbal Scores Using Bluebook Tools

Bluebook has built-in several helpful resources to help students on the practice test. Use these tips to earn the highest possible score on the Reading and Writing sections.

  1. Get comfortable skipping difficult questions and returning to them later—flag questions you want to return to at the end of the section to avoid wasting valuable time.
  2. Utilize the "Passage Annotator" in the Reading and Writing section to highlight while reading. Students can also take notes or make comments for further annotation.
  3. Strike out incorrect options by using the "Option eliminator" to focus on only correct possible answers.
  4. Reading passages in the PSAT/SAT are taken from various sources comparable to complex texts in colleges, including literature, humanities, and social studies. Practice citing evidence in these passages to demonstrate the ability to make claims, reason, and connect through critical thinking.

Start Early with Learn to Write Now!

Once students take the practice exams online with Bluebook, they'll know which areas they need to target for improvement. There are many online PSAT/SAT prep resources, but most are self-guided. At Learn to Write Now, we offer multiple test prep courses by veteran teachers focusing on improving verbal section scores. Our SAT Workshop is a semester-long program designed for 8th-12th grades, but we also offer an introductory 8-week PSAT Workshop for 7th-8th graders. In these programs, students strengthen reading comprehension and grammar skills while developing study habits that will serve them well beyond the test. For more information on our test prep classes, check out our workshop description pages here on the website or contact us by phone (+16303449840) or email.

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