Your Guide to the PSAT and ASVAB Tests

Now that the buzz of back to school has quieted down, the 2014-2015 school year is in full swing. For Sophomores and Juniors, fall is a time to start to think about and prepare for standardized testing (even Freshman too!).  9th, 10th and 11th graders have two important opportunities coming up in October, the PSAT and ASVAB tests. The PSAT is a standardized test sponsored by the College Board. It will be administered on Saturday, October 18th, at 8am, at FHS. However, there is an alternate date of Wednesday, Oct. 15.  The ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) is designed to predict success in the Military.  It will be administered Wednesday, October 22nd, at 9am, at FHS.  To sign up for these tests, go to Student Services with $14.  Both tests are highly beneficial if you are planning on attending secondary school, or thinking of joining the military.  Now for some information on each test.


You should already be comfortable with the content that will be covered for this test with your previous schooling. There is no science section on the PSAT, however, there are those crazy vocab questions!  See the bottom of this page for a Quizlet of commonly appearing PSAT words.

A Layout of the PSAT

Section Total Testing Time & Breakdown Number of Questions & Types Content/Skills Covered
Critical Reading 50 minutes (two 25-minute sections) 13 Sentence Completion Questions/35 Reading Passage Questions Vocabulary and Ability to Comprehend Complex SentencesReading/Interpreting what’s stated/implied in a passage
Math 50 minutes (two 25-minute sections) 28 Multiple-Choice Questions/10 Grid Ins Algebra and Functions; Geometry and Measurement; and Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability
Writing 30 minutes (one 30-minute section) 20 Improving Sentences Questions/14 Identifying Sentence Errors Questions/ 5 improving Paragraph Questions Grammar and UsageWriting and Revising

Scoring: Since the PSAT is scored where a 1/4 of a point is deducted for every incorrect answer, you will need to develop a plan to knowing if you should guess on a question or not. The PSAT is NOT a test that you can just fill in random bubbles at the end if you run out of time.

The PSAT Scoring Guide

Correct Answer to Multiple Choice Question Plus 1 point
Wrong Answer to Multiple Choice Question Minus 1/4 point
Wrong Answer to Math Grid In 0 Points Deducted
Unanswered Question 0 Points Deducted

Other Notable Information -The SAT contains some higher-level math that the PSAT does not -You don’t have to write an essay question! Only fill in the bubbles 🙂 -Colleges don’t see your score unless you get a scholarship from the PSAT -It is open for 9th, 10th and 11th graders   Benefits: College Information: You can gain college information through the College Board’s Student Search Service, which you can register for by taking the PSAT. This will give you opportunities to understand what over 1,100 colleges offer you, and gain insight into their application process, special activities, financial aid packages, scholarships, and campus life. Scholarship Opportunities: PSAT scores will be distributed in early-mid December. After scores are distributed, you will be notified if you are eligible for a National Merit Scholarship. If you are one of the PSAT’s 50,000 highest-scoring test takers, you will be considered for a $2,500 a National Merit Scholarship, or even more. This year, four FHS Seniors – Patrick, Noah, Elizabeth and Jordan – are Semi-Finalists in the Scholarship Program based off of their PSAT scores. So, it’s possible this could be you next year! SAT/ACT Application: The PSAT has real application to the SAT and ACT, as your PSAT results book comes with an answer key that helps you identify where your weaknesses are, so you can improve them before the actual SAT or ACT. If you are a Sophomore or Junior interested in going to Madison, the PSAT could help predict whether your test scores will be in the right range for acceptance. Based off of PSAT scores translating into SAT scores, you would need to score at 53-65 on Critical Reading, 63-75 on Math and 58-67 on Writing sections of the PSAT for Madison.


The ASVAB has a different purpose than the PSAT. The ASVAB is designed to predict success in the military, while the PSAT is designed to predict success in college.  Therefore, the content on the ASVAB is different from the content on the PSAT.  If you are planning on taking the ASVAB, it would be worthwhile to go through the sample questions on their website (link down below) and familiarize yourself with the information on the test.  The ASVAB is more content heavy than the PSAT, (with more logical and reasoning questions) and even contains sections that require mechanic, auto, and physics knowledge. You can take the ASVAB Junior and Senior year.

A Layout of the ASVAB

Topic Description Length Time Limit
General Science Knowledge of physical and BiologicalSciences 25 Questions 11 Minutes
Arithmetic Reasoning Ability to solve Arithmetic Word 30 Questions 36 Minutes
Word Knowledge Ability to select the correct meaning ofa word presented in context, and to identify the best synonym for a given word 35 Questions 11 Minutes
Paragraph Comprehension Ability to obtain information fromwritten passages 15 Questions 13 Minutes
Mathematics Knowledge Knowledge of High School MathematicsPrinciples 25 Questions 24 Minutes
Electronics Information Knowledge on electricity andelectronics 20 Questions 9 Minutes
Auto Information and Shop Information Knowledge of Automobile Technology, Tools, and ShopTerminology and Practices 25 Questions 11 Minutes
Mechanical Comprehension Knowledge of Mechanical and PhysicalPrinciples 25 Questions 19 Minutes
Assembling Objects Ability to determine how an object willlook when its parts are put together 25 Questions 15 Minutes

Scoring: Your score reflects your standing compared to American men and women 18-23 years of age on a percentile ranking scale of 0-99%. It measures verbal, mathematical, science, and technical skills.


Potential Admission to the Military: The ASVAB has 10 sections. Your scores from four of the sections — Word Knowledge (WK), Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), and Mathematics Knowledge (MK) — are combined to compute your score on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT).  This score is used to determine your eligibility for enlistment in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps.  Scores on all of the ASVAB tests are used to determine the best job for you in the military. Career Planning: The ASVAB is also offered to high school students as part of the ASVAB Career Exploration Program.  ASVAB results can be used for career planning and extra standardized testing experience, even if you decide not to join the military.  In the ASVAB Career Exploration Program, 49% of participants intend on going to a 4-year college and 13% have an interest in military careers.  People won’t think that you are going into the Military just because you take the ASVAB!

Eating for Testing

If studying really isn’t your thing, there are other ways you can slightly boost your test scores.  One way is simply by eating the right foods! Just like an athlete, you need to fuel up right before the big day to maximize focus and efficiency.  Here are some helpful foods to eat before a test or while studying: Brain Food #1: Green Tea Key Helpful Ingredient: Polyphenols Test Help: Brain protection and mood enhancement Brain Food #2: Eggs  Key Helpful Ingredient: Choline Test Help: Memory improvement Brain Food #4: Dark chocolate Key Helpful Ingredient: Flavonoids and Caffeine Test Help: Focus and Concentration. Read More About How Proper Nutrition Can Boost Test Scores:


And if you’re thinking “Who studies for the PSAT? Losers….”  Well, these sites are also helpful in preparing for the required ACT/SAT.

**A Quizlet Set of 250 Common PSAT Words:

**The OFFICIAL 2014 PSAT Study Guide With Full Practice Test and Explanations (What you’ll receive when you sign up in Student Services): **Study Guide Zone Study Guide with Explanations of Basic Concepts on Test: **ASVAB Sample Questions:


**Official PSAT Website: **Official ASVAB Website: **Official National Merit Scholarship Website:   ….Hey, if you’re still reading at the end of this article, Congrats, you get a cookie (not a whole grain one I promise).

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