The PSAT this fall is aligned with the Redesigned SAT so it now included a 25 minute 17 question section that you have to complete without the aid of any technology. If that makes your heart race don’t worry, I had the same reaction. I’m in this with you and I just took the non-calculator section myself and I have to say it was pretty challenging.

Below are my thoughts but read no further until you take the test and check your answers. And be sure to print the test out so you can write right on the problems instead of copying. The College Board only releases so many practice items and you don’t want to waste this opportunity to prepare.

1. I was nervous! Not having my calculator there in case I got stuck made me panic. On the first question I had to remind myself to calm down. Trying to do long division by hand can cause your brain to freeze and then you’ll get basic problems wrong. So remember to breathe and be sure to practice lots of non-calculator problems so your nerves won’t get the best of you.

2. Basic calculations slowed me down. Some of the numbers were large and they didn’t completely shy away from fractions and decimals. My main reaction was annoyance. * I have to divide 1950 by 30 without a calculator….really? *But once I pushed through it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I do wish I had marked the problems where I was a little unsure of my calculations with “check math” or something like that. I had time left over at the end and then I could have double checked my computations. I’d definitely recommend brushing up on multiplication, division, and operations with fractions before the test if you are calculator dependent.

3. It was difficult…but not *that* difficult. There were some tough problems! I got #12 wrong because I blanked at first about how to solve it. There really weren’t any freebies, you had to have a solid understanding of algebra 1 to even begin the problem. At the same time all you really needed was algebra 1 and some basic geometry. On some of the problems I freaked out at first and thought I had to use some advanced algebra 2 method to solve it and then I realized there was a much simpler way.

It was tough…but it was a good test. I thought the questions were really fair and the great news is once we get through the transition it will be a much better test than the old one. All the time you spend reviewing will help you out tremendously in your high school math classes.