Four Things to Focus on 24 Hours before the PSAT

The PSAT is an exam created by the College Board, and its primary purpose is to prepare high school students for the SAT. If you’re a junior, taking the test also gives you a shot at qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Younger students may take the PSAT 8, 9, or 10 (corresponding with their grade levels), which offer practice for the the real thing. Either way, the 24 hours before the test are crucial, so listen up!

Preparing for any test requires studying. In your case, though, it’s a little late for that. Cramming might even backfire. Now, with just a day left before the test, there are more important things to focus on, like putting matching shoes on your feet and remembering where the test room is. In the next 24 hours, you should focus on these four things:

1. Eat to fuel your brain.

Popeye eating spinach out of the can.

Popeye / Giphy

Tell your brain it’s time to shine by waking it up with the proper nutrients. Over the next 24 hours, you should have about two liters of water. That can come from your Aquafina, tap water, fruit, vegetables, and even coffee. Some foods that can power up your brain are:

  • Nuts
  • Berries (blueberries are great for memory)
  • Apples (it’s an energy booster, too)
  • Fish
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli and other leafy green vegetables
  • Avocado
  • Trail mix
  • Sunflower seeds

2. Pack your things the night before.

Get it done early and double-check that you have everything the morning of. The last thing you need is to wind up running late or being kicked out of the exam for having banned materials.

Here’s your checklist:

  • A photo ID
  • Two No. 2 pencils
  • A sharpener
  • An eraser
  • An acceptable calculator
  • Extra batteries
A South Park character packing his backpack.

South Park / Giphy

Here’s what we suggest you also bring:

  • A watch without an alarm
  • Your social security number (memorized)
  • Your email address
  • Layers to stay warm in the test room
  • A water bottle and small, healthy snack

Here’s what you should definitely NOT bring:

  • Highlighters
  • Pens
  • Your phone or iPod
  • A watch or timer with an alarm

3. Know the test structure.

The PSAT includes evidence-based reading and writing and a math section. The literacy section is broken up into two parts: reading, which provides 60 minutes to answer 47 questions, and writing, which gives you 35 minutes to answer 44 questions. Then, there are two math sections. A calculator is permitted on only one of those sections, which is 45 minutes long. The no-calculator math section gives you 25 minutes. Knowing the test structure will allow you to pace yourself easier. For even more help, use the watch we mentioned earlier—you know, the one with no alarm. You can thank us later.

Zendaya says "I love sleeping" and makes a pouting face; get a good night of sleep to prepare for the PSAT.

Zendaya / Giphy

4. Get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep and brain function are closely related. In fact, they are so deeply intertwined that if you pull an all-nighter cramming for your exam, you’re doing yourself an injustice. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that teenagers get at least nine hours of shut-eye. On top of needing to rest up for the test, your body and brain are still developing and need sleep in order to grow.

Take your PSAT seriously so that when it comes time for the real thing, the SAT is a walk in the park. For more information on standardized tests, click here.

About Katelyn Brush

Katelyn likes learning, good health, traveling, and pizza on Fridays. Her mixed education, composed of SUNY the College at Brockport, a semester at a community college, and one abroad at the University of Oxford, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in English. College also gave her a few lessons in Taekwondo and sleeping in a hostel dorm with total strangers. She’s a yoga teacher, author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Signing Together: A Guide to American Sign Language for Everyone.” As a Student Caffé writer, she hopes to help you through the highs and lows of college with a laugh ... or 20.

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