Here’s the Best Way to Get to Know the Digital PSAT

Experts at Academic Approach can help your student get comfortable with the new look and feel of the digital PSAT. Learn how.

Beginning this fall, every student scheduled to take the PSAT will sit down with a laptop, computer screen or tablet instead of paper and sharpened pencils. That’s because in October, the PSAT will have a new digital format.

For high school juniors taking the PSAT as part of their preparation for the SAT in the spring, this change is timely since the SAT will move to a digital format for the first time beginning next spring. Many students will take the PSAT without knowing that the test has undergone a major change.

Test day doesn’t have to be the first time your student engages with the PSAT and its new format, says Andrew Ferguson, Director of Client Services at Academic Approach, the Chicago-based test prep and tutoring company.

Academic Approach is offering individual three-hour information sessions for students to learn all about the new format of the PSAT. “This is a way to remove the surprise factor for students. An instructor will spend time with students individually and talk about the structure of the test, how to use the tools and how to best prepare for the PSAT in October,” Ferguson says.

Digital PSAT info sessions

Through three one-hour sessions, students can get to know the new PSAT digital format with the help of an Academic Approach educator who has spent considerable time with the new test.

Rather than just transferring the paper-and-pencil version of the test to a computer, the developers of the PSAT revamped the entire test, making it shorter and more adaptive. Every student who takes the information session will become familiar with the updated format, whether or not they have previous experience with the PSAT. “Changes to the test will be called out, so students who are familiar with the old format can be prepared,” Ferguson says.

An Academic Approach information session is an effective and affordable way for your student to work individually with a guide and learn everything there is to know about the PSAT.

“Our PSAT information sessions are in a one-to-one format by design. And that’s a benefit. We know that not every student feels comfortable speaking up in a group setting, so these one-on-one sessions provide a comfortable environment for students to ask as many questions as they want,” Ferguson explains.

By spending plenty of time with the digital PSAT in an individual information session with Academic Approach, here are some of the ways students will become comfortable with the PSAT:

  • They will learn about the logistics and structure of the test, including the number of questions, the time constraints for each section, and the new module structure.
  • They will learn about the dozens of question types that will appear on the PSAT, including brand new question types that students have never seen before.
  • They will become familiar with ways to approach various question types and how to budget their time and efforts on each question.
  • They will interact directly with the various tools embedded in the test, such as the calculator, time clock, and text annotation tools,
  • They’ll become familiar with other test-taking techniques that will help them feel confident and ready to do their best work on the PSAT.

“This course will help students have a leg up on test day and feel more confident and comfortable with the test,” Ferguson says. “If students spend time on test day trying to understand how the technology works or adjusting to new question types, the test is less likely to provide a true picture of where they are academically.”

Time well spent with the digital PSAT

The PSAT is more than just a practice test for the SAT. It’s an important milestone in a student’s education and preparation for college applications. Ultimately, a strong score on the PSAT and the SAT indicates a student’s potential for success in future college work. The PSAT can help students and their parents gain a better understanding of where gaps in their content understanding may lie, giving the student the opportunity to fill in their knowledge where necessary.

For juniors, the PSAT is considered the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship program, says Carla Pedersen, Regional Director with Academic Approach.

“For the high-achieving student, there is a lot riding on the PSAT. For the student who is looking for everything that comes with being a National Merit Semifinalist or Finalist, this test is part of the application process and could determine awarded scholarship dollars. For these reasons, it’s good practice to become as familiar with the PSAT as possible,” Pedersen says.

The PSAT matters to Illinois school districts, too, Ferguson says. “The PSAT and SAT are used to chart student progression and determine the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction, so it means a lot to teachers and administrators and schools. These tests represent how well they are doing,” he says.

Where to go next

If your family has not worked with Academic Approach prior to attending your PSAT information session, you can use this affordable opportunity to discover the various academic support options available.

“This information session can be an important first step. Students can learn about the format of the digital PSAT, then demonstrate the skills they have acquired,” explains Pedersen. “Then they can come back to Academic Approach with their PSAT scores to get a better understanding of where they stand and if they could benefit from tutoring to fill gaps in their knowledge of the content so they can face the SAT with confidence.”

Learn more and schedule your student’s digital PSAT information session with Academic Approach. Visit

Claire Charlton
Claire Charlton
An enthusiastic storyteller, Claire Charlton focuses on delivering top client service as a content editor for Chicago Parent. In her 20+ years of experience, she has written extensively on a variety of topics and is keen on new tech and podcast hosting. Claire has two grown kids and loves to read, run, camp, cycle and travel.


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