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Improving PSAT/NMSQT Scores

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I took the PSAT for practice and got a 163. That is supposed to be a pretty good score, but I want to raise it when I take it for real. I want at least a 201. I have been taking practice tests, reading and working in my Princeton Review boom everyday, reviewing math skills, and memorizing the PSAT Hit List. Beyond that, is there anything that helped you raise your score?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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*book. I am tempted to disable auto-correct.
 
  • #3
verty
Homework Helper
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What about word lists? I was looking an the example sentence in the student guide, here is a slightly modified version:

Code:
Greta praised the novel for its _____, being so 
realistic as to seem factual rather than fictional.

A.  relevance
B.  transcendence
C.  cogency
D.  verisimilitude
E.  perspicacity
Learning word lists can really help. It may seem unfair, like it is biasing the test results, but this test is biased anyway so I wouldn't worry about it.

Here we have that A,C and E are very similar. If the novel is relevant, cogent or perspicacious, it means the novel is accurate at describing what it is describing. These are almost correct. But D is more correct, meaning "truth-resemblance", which is exactly what was said. I think we could reasonably expect Greta to have said C or E in her actual sentence, using the subordinate clause to add extra meaning rather than repeating the meaning of the word used earlier. But here we must choose the "most correct" answer.

So I think word lists can help. And reading newspaper articles should help with critical reading, where questions like this may be asked: "do you think the author is in favor of the point made in the second paragraph?"

As for writing, I think it is largely a reflection of what one has read. I think there must be a correlation (know what this means?) between good writing and voracious (know what this means?) reading. And math is just what one learns in school, I can't say much about that.

Example word lists:
Word roots, try to find examples that contain each root, like "ann" and annual/anniversary.
Sets 1-4 here, some are quite difficult like dilatory.
 
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  • #4
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Verty,
Thank you! Your tips are helpful, astute, and relevant. I'll check out the links you gave me. May I ask how many times you took the test, and how long you prepared? You're right, it is biased.
 
  • #5
WannabeNewton
Science Advisor
5,803
530
It's a test that tests how well you can test, not necessarily how well you know the material. That's the most important thing I learned from my SAT classes and it works wonders, trust me. The writing section is extremely straightforward (just memorize the ~12 basic grammar rules and you're set; the essay is extremely formulaic) so this really only applies to the math and reading sections. When I took the PSAT ~3 years ago there was no essay portion (as opposed to the SAT itself) so that makes it even better although I don't know if that's been changed in the past 3 years.
 
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  • #6
verty
Homework Helper
2,164
198
Verty,
Thank you! Your tips are helpful, astute, and relevant. I'll check out the links you gave me. May I ask how many times you took the test, and how long you prepared? You're right, it is biased.
It is my pleasure to help if I can, so you're most welcome. Actually, I have never taken a test like this, I don't know much about it except what I read in the Student Guide. But I firmly believe that any test becomes easier when you have the background knowledge. Also I have read a guide to a more difficult test, the LSAT, which has reading and writing sections as well.

I always like to give examples so here is an example relating to the critical reading section. For each question, try to find the answer in the excerpt. I think the actual test will not be as difficult as this but it should be a useful example nevertheless. But be sure to know about metaphor and hyperbole and all that stuff as well, whatever you have learned in school.

Preston bus station, one of the biggest, greyest and most divisive examples of 1960s brutalist architecture, has found a saviour in the shape of culture minister Ed Vaizey. Vaizey announced his decision to give the enormous multistorey car park and bus terminus grade II listing.

There was joy in the world of architecture, but disappointment at Preston council, which has estimated that the full refurbishment they say it needs will cost between £17m and £23m.

Council leader Peter Rankin said: "Obviously it's not the outcome we were hoping for. We've always said the bus station is too big, provides relatively poor facilities for bus passengers and costs Preston taxpayers over £300,000 a year to maintain."

To its fans, the bus station slash car park is a building of beauty: "One of the most dramatic British public buildings of the 1960s … cinematic, sculptural, heroic," according to the Guardian's former architecture critic, Jonathan Glancey, and "truly a major modern building and an outstanding piece of 20th century architecture," according to the architect Richard Rogers.
Question 1: What would have happened if the building had not been given the grade II listing?
Question 2: How many reasons against the grade II listing are given in the excerpt?
Question 3: Why do you think the author uses the word "divisive" in the first sentence?
Question 4: According to the last paragraph, the building is beautiful. Was this opinion well motivated?
Question 5: Do you think the author of the excerpt agrees with the grade II listing?

Answers:
1 - demolished, 2 - 4 reasons, 3 - many people think brutalist buildings are ugly, 4 - no, many of the adjectives used do not imply beauty (dramatic, heroic, outstanding), 5 - impossible to tell
 
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  • #7
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1. Preston bus station would not have been refurbished, leading to it becoming an unpopular form a transit, and, possibbly, it's ultimate destruction.
2. Three.
3. The author uses the word divisive because Ed Vaizey and the Preston council are in disagreement.
4. The author seems to be believe so.
5. Yes.

I am guessing this is from your LSAT book, since the PSAT has only multiple choice for critical reading? I am surely well prepared, having studied for this test for years.

Thanks!

Wannabe Newtown, You are right. Even the math section has tricks, it's not even really the math you learn in school. Thanks!
 
  • #8
verty
Homework Helper
2,164
198
1. Preston bus station would not have been refurbished, leading to it becoming an unpopular form a transit, and, possibbly, it's ultimate destruction.
2. Three.
3. The author uses the word divisive because Ed Vaizey and the Preston council are in disagreement.
4. The author seems to be believe so.
5. Yes.

I am guessing this is from your LSAT book, since the PSAT has only multiple choice for critical reading? I am surely well prepared, having studied for this test for years.

Thanks!
I made up this example, I looked for an article that I could make some questions for and found this one, it turned out to be very nice for questions. I did the best I could but my questions were a little ambiguous and I should have made them less difficult. But I think they still work as an example of the type of thinking that can help with the critical reading section.

Here is my reasoning for the answers I gave.

#2. This was a little tricky. I counted 4 reasons, the fourth being the need for refurbishment. The article tells us that there is a maintenance cost of £300k, but the refurbishment cost is £17m - £33m, that is 50 to 100 years worth of maintenance costs. So this is an expensive refurbishment which I think we can safely say was a compelling reason to not give it the grade II listing. I know the article didn't say "another reason is the refurbishment cost", but this expensive refurbishment was reported as being given by an opponent of the listing.

#1. What would have happened? This hinges on the meaning of "saviour" and the response by the council leader. To be a saviour, something bad must have been about to happen. If the bus station needs that expensive refurbishment, probably it was about to become unsafe or unusable in some way. When the council leader responds that the council is against the grade II listing partly because of the maintenance cost, that implies that the building would stop being maintained if it didn't receive the grade II listing. If a bus station and multistory carpark stops being maintained, it'll become unsafe and it could fall down at any time. I say this because a building like this is almost all concrete, so the refurbishment would be painting and fixing structural problems. Leaving the building unused could mean that it collapses at an unexpected time, possibly injuring or killing someone, so I thought it is most likely that the city council would insist on demolishing it in a controlled way. So some lateral thinking allows one to say with high probability that it would be demolished otherwise.

#3. This was the most difficult question, I thought. Would it make sense for brutalist buildings to be anything but big and grey? According to one of the architects in the excerpt, this building is an oustanding example of 20th century architecture. And we know it is an example of brutalist architecture. So it is an outstanding example of brutalist architecture. So if it is extremely big and extremely grey, brutalist buildings are big and grey.

Now, are brutalistic buildings divisive? Well suppose there was an example of brutalist architecture, big and grey but not divisive. Then this bus station would not be so highly regarded as a brutalist example. But it is, the architects love it. So brutalist buildings are divisive.

Therefore, the word "divisive" refers to public opinion about such buildings, and the author uses "most divisive" because this building, by its nature as an outstanding example, is outstandingly divisive, dividing public opinion very much, hence my answer that there are many people who think it is ugly.

#4. This was about the word meanings, as I showed in the spoiler.

#5. These questions are always difficult. If one realizes that he calls the building big, grey and divisive because brutalistic buildings are big, grey and divisive, then there is no other indication of bias, which makes the answer "impossible to tell". This was another problem with these questions, they overlap too much.

So they were very difficult and I wouldn't worry about them too much, but hopefully this was interesting to you.

I wish you the best of luck with your exam.
 
  • #9
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Thanks!
 

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