The PSAT 8-9 is a standardized test that’s part of the SAT Suite of Assessments. Illinois students take the test in October of their 8th-grade year.
This test serves two purposes. First, it gives parents an idea of how their students are progressing in math and language arts. If a student gets a low percentile score, that’s a sign he may need some intervention to be ready for college placement tests like the SAT and ACT later on.
Second, PSAT 8-9 scores help teachers decide whether a student would benefit more from advanced, general or remedial math and English courses in 9th grade. This test, along with grades and teacher recommendations, determines your child’s academic trajectory as she transitions from middle to high school.
As such, it’s important that parents are aware of the PSAT 8-9 and its importance. If your student has the skill and desire to take advanced classes, it’s important that he prepares thoroughly for this test.
How to Prepare for the PSAT 8-9
The PSAT 8-9 has three sections: Reading, Writing and Language, and Math.
The Reading test contains passages that students use to find and analyze claims and evidence, evaluate words in context, and examine hypotheses and data.
The Writing and Language test asks students to correct poorly written passages using their knowledge of grammar and syntax.
The Math test contains both multiple-choice and grid-in questions. It measures students’ Algebra skills, as well as their quantitative literacy (which includes ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning). All problems are word problems, and the test is divided into “calculator” and “no calculator” sections.
This is not a test students can prepare for overnight, or even in a few weeks. To excel, students need to get comfortable with not only the test content, but also the way the questions are formatted. The best way to do this is to complete real PSAT 8-9 practice tests with the help of an instructor who’s familiar with the exam.
Here are some helpful tips as your student prepares for the PSAT 8-9:
Why the PSAT 8-9 Is Important
The PSAT 8-9 helps determine high school class placement, and class placement helps determine college admissions.
For example, many collegiate STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs prefer students who have completed AP calculus. If your child isn’t placed on an advanced math track, it can be difficult to get into an AP course and demonstrate high competency in math.
It also can be tricky to switch from general courses to advanced courses after placement. Talk to your student about her academic goals. Have her write down what she’d like to be or what she’d like to study, and map out the classes she’d need to take in high school to get there. If she wants to take advanced classes, have her communicate that to her teachers (it’s better if this comes from the student rather than parents). Teacher recommendations also play a role in high school class placement.
Starting in August, iLearn Academy offers weekly PSAT 8-9 test prep courses. Our knowledgeable instructors and large collection of real practice tests help students make measurable gains. We adjust our curriculum based on each student’s strengths and areas for improvement, so they get the most from their study time. Additionally, our Test Prep Gym program lets students come in whenever they want to take practice tests and get help from our tutors.
To find out your child’s PSAT 8-9 test date in Northbrook, Wilmette, Glenview, Skokie, Winnetka, Glencoe, Northfield, or Niles, ask your child’s teacher or check your school district’s testing calendar.
To learn more or enroll in PSAT 8-9 prep, give us a call at 847-834-0791.